I was raised on summer farmer’s markets. My grandmother didn’t have much of a garden by the time I was old enough to help her store vegetables for the winter. She instead went to the local Farmer’s Market in Jackson, Mississippi. She was a repeat customer of Ms. Ann Patrick from Crystal Springs, MS. She would get bushels of peas, beans, and corn for us to blanch and store for the winter. But she would also buy tomatoes, onions, okra, squash, and watermelon. I loved going to the market to see Ann and watch the big shelling machines and get an ice cold Coke while Mamaw and Ann talked about the heat, families, and what’s looking good this week from the farm. We made our last trip to see Ann in 1991 or ‘92 before Mamaw got too sick to put up vegetables. Imagine my surprise in 2008 when my Grandpa on my mother’s side mentioned that some lady named Ann Patrick had a stall in the new Byram Farmer’s Market. On my way back to Alabama, I just had to drive by and see if this was MY Ann from those many summers. Sure enough, it was. I walked right up and she recognized me at age 32 and 17 years after I last saw her . Needless to say, there is a special place in my heart for the local Farmer’s Market.
One of the many things I like about Birmingham is the rapidly growing community of health foodies, in addition to the huge running, biking, and triathlon community. One of my favorite weekend activities is to drive over for an early morning race, then head over to Whole Foods Market to stock up on favorites that I cannot get where I live. I do this about 4-5 times a year during spring and fall. Now, I’ve found a reason to travel to Birmingham in the spring and summer months. The Pepper Place Farmer’s Market is open each Saturday May-late September. I had no idea what to really expect because a “farmer’s market” can be anything from a group of trucks tailgating their produce to a huge downtown square filled to the brim with stalls and stalls of bountiful produce, local wines, cheeses, plants, fresh stews and breads, boiled peanuts, grilled veggies, pickles and jams, herbs, and much more.
Check out my gorgeous morning in Birmingham, Alabama.
I enjoyed my day in Birmingham and I will always be thankful for “Miss Ann” and my grandmother for leading the way for me to follow in the tradition of the Farmer’s Market.