The Alexander City Farmers Market season is wrapping up soon and had a successful season, according to manager Carly Herrmann.
The market increased its vendors from about eight to 10 tables last year to an average of 24 vendors this year.
“We have broadened our array of vegetables from having the main (produce as) corn and tomatoes to figs, to sweet potatoes, to turnips and long leaf kale and short leaf kale and I could go on,” Herrmann said. “We have gotten several younger people who are now at the market who are learning to use things they grow and make different things as far as jellies and jams and pepper sauce and things like that. And then we have several people who have been there who are long lasting.”
Even retired vendors are helping new farmers with tips such as adding a drop of oil to pepper sauce to draw heat, according to Herrmann.
In addition to vendors, the farmers market has hosted musicians, inflatable houses and a petting zoo. Herrmann said she added musicians to entice people driving or walking by to stop and attend.
“It makes the atmosphere market so much nicer if the breeze is going and you hear Mr. Tommy G play his saxophone, which was lovely,” Herrmann said. “He was blowing us out of the bottom of the parking lot.”
Herrmann wanted more families to attend the market so that meant adding entertainment to it.
“We like to create a family atmosphere so when people leave the market, they don’t just get in their car and go home,” Herrmann said. “They want to come over to Carlisle’s and have lunch and they want to buy a shirt from Makers Market and they want to stop by (Coffee Corner on Main) and get a coffee on their way home. We want to spread them out through downtown.”
The farmers market is one of the few free markets in the state for vendors to provide goods. The market provides tents, tables and parking spaces for them to sell goods.
“The sponsors enabled us to keep it free for our vendors,” Main Street Alexander City executive director Stacey Jeffcoat said. “We could not do that without them and our great volunteers.”
Jeffcoat said she sees the farmers market as a social gathering this year.
“(Visitors) come up there, go to Coffee Corner to have breakfast, come over to the market, see their friends, pick up some tomatoes,” Jeffcoat said. “So it’s a real sense of community and even with the farmers, they all help each other and I think that’s a nice thing about our market.”
Before the market closes for the season Sept. 28, it will feature more fall produce such as turnips and pumpkins.
Herrmann wants the farmers market to grow even more next year. One idea she has is to host cooking demonstrations where a chef uses ingredients from the vendors.
“Our plans for next year will be make it better and to have more quality foods and have some unique artisans,” Herrmann said.
The Alexander City’s Farmers Market will be open from 7 to 11 a.m. each Saturday through Sept. 28 at Broad Street.
Anyone interested in becoming a vendor or sponsor for next year’s farmers market should reach out through Alexander City Farmers Market’s Facebook page.
“It’s unlike anything you really go to,” Herrmann said. “People like to get their coffee, walk around and visit each tent and sometimes stay the whole time.”