Roadside produce stand offers food and faith

Published 2:18 pm Sunday, July 5, 2009

At the B&B roadside produce stand along U.S. 31 in Alabaster, just between the Waffle House and the Highway 119 intersection, Larry Banks provides farm fresh food to nourish the body and quotes words of faith to nourish the soul.

“This is a Christian business,” said Banks, an Alabaster resident and preacher. “I don’t have to be out here, but I believe God put me out here for a reason.”

Banks set up the produce stand nine years ago this summer. Along with selling peaches, watermelons, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, purple hull peas and green beans grown by Chilton County farmers, Banks has officiated weddings and counseled customers at the roadside location.

“I’ve married 10 folks right here, I’ve talked to folks that have problems, I’ve prayed for folks that don’t believe in heaven and I minister to them about having God in their life,” Banks said.

Gospel music hums from Banks’ car radio as he displays red and green tomatoes on a table manned by his cousin, Marva Montgomery, and their 81-year-old aunt Mable Spiegner. Banks said the produce stand is a family business, and he and his relatives alternate shifts.

Spiegner, who’s wearing a fuschia-colored straw hat to shield herself from the heat, waves to drivers who honk their car horns as they pass by.

“I just come out here sometimes … just because I’m beautiful,” she said, laughing. “I’ve been in Alabaster since I was 32 years old and now I’m 81. I bought my first piece of land out here in 1960. I’ve got history out here.”

The family’s commute to the produce stand is brief. They live in the neighborhood just behind where they set up.

“My kinfolks are all up in the hills around here,” Banks said.

Banks flips his hand back and forth to say business is so-so thus far. Produce is slightly more expensive than last year, but slow sales don’t seem to concern Banks.

“Things are waking up a little bit now, but the good Lord will send folks here whenever he sends them,” Banks said. “We’re not going to complain.”

The produce stand is open Wednesday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. this summer.