Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Year Round Farmer's Markets

In 2007 I was fortunate enough to stay in Seattle for two weeks. I fell in love. The city had done a pretty good job of keeping big chain stores - excepting Starbucks, of course - out of the bulk of the city (outlawed to the suburbs). There were used book stores on almost every corner and the library was the most amazing thing I had ever seen! I had found my people.

One of the most amazing aspects was, of course, the Pike Place Market. There were art booths, soap booths, restaurants, and REAL butcher shops. Guys, we were visiting in the middle of January there were vendors selling produce. True - not all of the produce was in season, but a lot of it was. A lot of the people there were representatives of farms a few hours out of the city. I was in awe that it was this easy to find fresh, seasonal produce in a middle of a city.

Recently there was an article from The Huffington Post that discussed the growing trend of year round markets. I did notice that Birmingham's own Pepper Place Market had a few Harvest & Holiday weekends through out the fall - open sporadically for people wanting to get some locally grown butternuts and greens. In the article, a lot of the markets expanding are in the Northeast, where they have bitterly cold winters. I have been told repeatedly that the state or farms in Alabama are struggling. Right now, a winter growing season seems slightly out of reach. I am ready to start pushing the demand, it seems silly when we have such temperate winters not to be able to successfully have at least a once a month winter market at Pepper Place. I don't just want turnips and parsnips on my Christmas table, I want them on my Tuesday night table!

"It can't be a five-month-long thing and then just stop and everybody go to Walmart," said Dave Purpura, a farmer who participates in the winter market at Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum dedicated to the Pilgrims. "If you want to be serious about promoting the local food economy, you have to go through the winter."
This is sort of a continuation of my quest to find  local produce in the winter months. As I am aware, only Grow Alabama offers any amount of winter produce. What about the Finley market? Has anyone checked them out lately? Let's start small! If you could just send Pepper Place an e-mail telling them you are ready for a Winter Market - then maybe we can get the ball rolling. I am typing up mine right now!

Please share your thoughts in the comments section.


  1. You should visit Austin sometime! There are certain areas where 'chain' stores & restaurants aren't allowed. ;) I didn't know that was where the phrase 'Keep Austin Weird' came from until I visited.

    Though I'm not in Birmingham, I'll email Pepper Place on behalf of my friends. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks, Jenny! Maybe you should think about moving back!? I know a lot of people who would probably be okay with that.

  3. Just saw your comment...I do like Birmingham but am currently applying for teaching jobs in GA & TN. I may wind up applying at some community colleges in AL, though. Ultimately, I'd like to live in Atlanta.

    It's definitely a compliment -- there are lots of people I love in Bham!