The garden bug bit me back in that incredibly warm March we had last month but I reluctantly held my ground and resisted the urge. Like a good Southern girl, I remembered my grandfather’s advice – no plants could go in the ground until Good Friday at the very earliest, or I’d risk the damage of a late frost. And sure enough, last week’s frost advisory and this weekend’s cool temperatures made me happy I held off.
But I can’t wait much longer for those big, juicy tomatoes. And fresh fried okra. And hot buttery corn. And WATERMELONS! I love home-grown produce, but for many people that’s just not possible. It’s too time-consuming, too hot, or they just weren’t lucky enough to have a grandfather to pass along the know-how. Personally, I choose not to grow squash because the kids don’t eat it and it takes a lot of room in my garden that other things could be growing in. (Plus I loathe squash bugs).
We’re extremely lucky to live in an area crawling with farmers that are eager to sell fresh and tasty jewels from their gardens. You can sign up for a CSA box from your favorite farm, or you can be a regular customer at the many farmer’s markets and roadside stands that can be found throughout Madison County. RCM has compiled a list for you to bookmark and refer to all summer long!
For one day only this Saturday, Operation Green Team’s Earth Day celebration will include a local farmer’s market at Hays Nature Preserve from 10:00Am – 2:00PM. There will also be cooking & beekeeping demonstrations, storytelling, guided hikes, and crafts for families to celebrate Mother Earth and all her bounty.
Madison City Farmers Market
1282 Hughes Road, Madison, AL 35758
Open Saturdays 8AM – Noon April 16 – October 22. Come early for the best selection of local veggies, fruits, cheese, eggs, beef, pork, chicken, fresh herbs, honey, home baked goods, relishes, jams and jellies. There are also creations from local artisans including handmade cards, soaps, lotions, candles, wood crafts, sewn items and other handmade items.
Madison County Farmers Market
1022 Cook Avenue, Huntsville, AL 35804 (256)532-1661
7 Days A Week 8:00AM – 5:00PM March – December / 5 Day A Week January – February. The only daily market in town, you can phone to find out about its assortment of seasonal organic food, vegetables, local specialties, fruits and crafts.
Ayer’s Farmer’s Market
2015 Memorial Parkway in Huntsville, AL (256)533-5667
Closed Sunday, but open every other day from 8:00AM – 6:00PM. The Ayers supplied the residents of Huntsville with farm-fresh produce for over 30 years. Open daily, some produce is even picked on the very day of its sale. In addition to fruits & veggies, they carry a full line of canned fruits and jellies, custom fruit baskets (they deliver to Huntsville Hospital!), homemade pies, and more.
The Greene Street Market At Nativity
208 Eutis Avenue & Greene Street, Huntsville, AL 35801
Thursday 4:00PM – 8:00PM May – October. This is a local, producer-only market where you can know the farmers who grow your food. Items available: produce, meat and dairy, breads, honey and relishes, fresh herbs and flowers, cooking demonstrations and live music! ANother great part of this market is its conjunction with downtown Huntsville’s Sidewalk Arts Stroll beginning in May.
J SParks Hydroponic Strawberry & Vegetable Farm
312 Esslinger Drive, Gurley, Al 35748 (256)776-9881
Opening in May, Tuesday – Friday 8:00AM – 5:30PM, Saturday 8:00AM – 3:00PM. That’s right… HYDROPONIC. This working farm houses an on-site market and even sells home hydroponic garden systems. Strawberries, lettuces, melons, herbs, and fresh produce of all sorts are offered. Group farm tours can also be arranged with an advanced call.
Isom’s Orchard & Roadside Stand
24012 U.S. Highway 72 East, Athens, AL 35613 (256)232-0808
Open 7:00Am – 7:00PM in May – November with seasonal fruits and vegetables. The past year has been rough on the Isom family, with their orchards and fields taking the brunt of last year’s devastating tornadoes. But they are back in business with their fresh peaches, apples, gourds, pumpkins, and fresh produce in the summertime.
Bridgestreet Farmers Market
6782 Old Madison Pike Huntsville, AL, 35804 (256) 428-2026
Open Saturdays in June – October, 9:00AM – 1:00PM. Located at Huntsville’s popular upscale shopping center, this market makes it possible for you to peruse local produce AND platform pumps.
Three Rivers Farmer’s Market
2421 Winchester Road, Huntsville, AL 35811, (256)852-3303
Formerly know as the South Huntsville Farmer’s Market located on South Parkway, this market is open daily in its new Riverton area. It still features all the great local produce it did previously.
Blue Willow Farms, 336 John Cross Road, Toney,(256) 503-4855
Open mid-June through late August, Blue Willow Farms invites visitors to pick their own blueberries. The farm is located less than an hour away from downtown Huntsville.
Mary Mac Farm, 2060 Dug Hill Road, Brownsboro, (256)534-5328
With more than 1,200 blueberry bushes on two acres of land, Mary Mac Farm offers U-pick blueberries as well as blackberries. Open from June 15-August 15th. Be sure to call ahead.
Brown Farms, 384 Walnut Grove Road, New Market, AL 35761, (256) 828-0710
Brown’s has been a u-pick staple for years. Their sweet strawberries are local and legendary.
Gin House Branch Farm, 1579 Bethel Road S., Decatur
For more than 10 years, Gin House Branch Farm has grown various berry crops. Since 2004, the farm has been exclusively a U-pick enterprise and welcomes visitors to pick their fresh blueberries and muscadine grapes.
Sherry’s Berrries , 1207 Countess Road, Huntsville, AL 35810 (256)886-3146
Fresh blueberries. Open Sundays only from 1-4 PM. Call ahead.
Bill’s Honey Farm, 8714 Moores Mill Road, Meridianville, AL 35759 (256)828-4836
Don’t believe that old wives tale about local honey helping allergy sufferers, but you’ll still want to grab a jar of Bill’s. He also offers blueberries, blackberries, and beeswax candles.
Did we leave out a best-kept secret produce stand? Leave us a tip in the comments!
* Featured photo credit to the Madison Farmer’s Market.