“Buy Fresh, Buy Local” at Eastern Shore Farmers Markets

D. Fran Morley

Believe it or not, the first organized farmers market—with producers of vegetables, meat and baked goods selling direct to the consumers—opened more than 280 years ago in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. That markets still going strong, and according to the US Department of Agriculture there are nearly 10,000 similar markets across the country. Three are right here on the Eastern Shore.
Fairhope’s Farmers Market is the granddaddy of the Eastern Shore markets, opening as a summer market in 2003 on Church Street downtown, with a fall market added a couple of years later. Early markets had around a dozen vendors. After the new Fairhope Public Library opened in 2007, the market moved to the lawn behind the library on Bancroft Street, which allows for more vendors (around 30–35 on a weekly basis) and other activities. There are adoptable pets from The Haven and the library sponsors story time and activities for children, said Paige Crawford, event coordinator for the City of Fairhope. "It's all about the atmosphere! Visitors can enjoy live music, a variety of vegetables and produce, and leave with a fresh bouquet of flowers. Alabama has such a vibrant farming community and the farmers market is the easiest way to support local farmers and learn about the benefits of eating what's in season.” Fairhope’s Summer Farmer’s Market is open through July 7 on Thursdays, from 3 to 6 pm. The fall market is Sept. 22 through November 10.
The City of Spanish Fort and the Eastern Shore Chamber have teamed up to host our area’s newest Farmers Market, and according to Mayor Mike McMilllian, it’s off to an outstanding start. "We’ve just started and we’ve got room to grow, but so far, everyone is happy. We’ve had a good selection of local produce, fresh Alabama seafood, eggs, blueberries, strawberries. There’s nothing better than fresh produce, and I’m very happy that our city can help provide this.” Spanish Fort’s market takes place on Saturday mornings through July 30 from 8 am to noon at the new Community Center at 7361 Spanish Fort Blvd. "And if all goes well, and our residents would like for us to continue, we’ll probably hold it again in the fall,” the mayor said.  
Daphne’s Farmers Market is a production of volunteers at the Daphne Art Center. Andy Root (yes, that’s really his last name) says he helped with the market that first started last year and then offered to run it this year. (His wife, Annie, is president of the Daphne Art Center.) "It’s been a lot of fun, and the market has grown quite a lot this year. I’m always looking for new vendors. When we started, we were in the parking lot of the United Methodist Church, then we moved to near Southern Napa, and now, I think we’ve found our permanent location, at the corner of Main Street and Santa Rosa, by Fast Times gas station. Daphne’s market, a fund-raising activity for the Art Center, is planned to run straight through the fall, open on Fridays from 2 to 6 pm through November 4. 

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