Farmers Market set to open Saturday
by Melanie Patterson
May 15, 2012 | 1997 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Walker County Farmers Market President Jeremy Gray looks over blackberries at his farm. On Saturday, he and about 19 other growers will open the new season of the farmers market on Airport Road. - Photo by: Melanie Patterson.
Walker County Farmers Market President Jeremy Gray looks over blackberries at his farm. On Saturday, he and about 19 other growers will open the new season of the farmers market on Airport Road. - Photo by: Melanie Patterson.
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Plenty of fresh, locally grown produce will be readily available in Jasper starting this weekend.

The annual Walker County Farmers Market on Airport Road opens Saturday. It will be open every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday starting at 7 a.m. Farmers Market President Jeremy Gray said the market does not have a certain closing time; the growers go home when their produce is sold out.

There is also not a definite date for when the selling season ends.

“The end depends on the weather and growing conditions,” said Joe McCluney, secretary and treasurer of the farmers market organization. The market is usually open until around Thanksgiving.

All of the produce is from Walker and surrounding counties.

“Everything is grown locally, except watermelons until July,” McCluney said. “People can sell them, but they’re not growing here yet.” Watermelons are currently ripening in south Alabama and in Florida.

Gray said about 20 growers are paid members in the Walker County Farmers Market. They will offer a wide variety of produce for sale, including onions, potatoes, collards, cabbage, tomatoes, okra, corn and much more.

“What we pull out of the ground is 10 times better than what you can get at the grocery store,” Gray said. “In terms of quality we definitely are, and our prices are usually better too. Most of us don’t grow it just to sell it; we eat it, too.”

About 90 percent of the growers at the local farmers market accept coupons from the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program. Gray said the growers must be accepted into the program in order to accept the coupons.

One of the most popular days at the market is Tomato Day, which Gray said is usually the last Saturday in July. On that day, the Alabama Farmers Federation provides free tomato sandwiches at the market.

The Chamber of Commerce of Walker County organized the farmers market in 1979 to “create jobs and to create an opportunity for farmers to sell their merchandise,” according to McCluney. “In particular, it was to give the citizens a chance to buy fresh, home grown merchandise.”

The market is funded in part by the Walker County Commission and the Alabama Farmers Federation.