The farm days of summer

As the temperatures and humidity levels creep higher, truckloads of fresh produce and other locally made goods are sprouting up all across Shelby County.

Every week this summer, local farmers and merchants will be selling their crops and wares at farmers’ markets across the county.

This year, Calera will join Helena, Montevallo, Columbiana, Mt Laurel, North Shelby and Wilsonville in bringing local residents a fresh alternative to buying items like potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage and carrots.

Calera Farmers Market organizers Rebecca Krueger and her husband, Randy, first began working to bring the weekly market to the city in November 2009.

After more than six months of preparation, the Kruegers saw their hard work pay off June 1 as dozens of patrons flocked to Oliver Park for the Calera market’s first day.

The Calera market will now take place every Tuesday from 3-7 p.m. in Oliver Park near the Calera High School football stadium.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” Rebecca said as she surveyed the busy market. “Before we opened today, I stood up and thanked all the farmers for their wonderful support.”

The Kruegers began seeing widespread support for the market months before the weekly event was finalized, and they now have a waiting list for farmers and merchants looking to sell at the market.

“We actually have 19 on our list right now hoping they will have a spot to sell here this summer,” Rebecca said. “Most of the farmers made a commitment to us before this market was even a thing. That really said a lot to me.”

As patrons strolled through the market June 1 while buying everything from homemade soap to organic produce, the merchants said they were grateful they have a new place to sell this year.

“I’m definitely glad this market is here now. I’m glad that we have a place to sell on Tuesdays now,” said Mark Gore, with the Jemison-based Chapel Farms. “If people keep coming like they have today, it’s going to be great.”

Bennie Dixon, owner of Chilton County’s Dixon Family Farm, said he was glad he and his family have a new farmers’ market close to home.

“We have been enjoying the market today. We’ve been enjoying the turnout too,” Dixon laughed. “We are glad to have another market this close to home.”

Most Shelby County residents should be able to find at least one weekly farmers’ market close to their homes, too.

Every Monday, the Montevallo Farmers’ Market will meet from 3-6 p.m. at the corner of Island Street and Boundary Street.

Saturdays bring several markets, with the Columbiana Farmers’ Market meeting from 7 a.m.-noon on West College Street and Helena Market Days meeting from 8 a.m.-noon at 4151 Helena Road.

Wilsonville Farmer’s Market will open June 12 downtown at the corner of Highways 25 and 61. The event will run from 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

The Mt Laurel Farmers’ Market also meets Saturdays from 8 a.m.-noon at 38 Manning Place, and the Valleydale Farmers Market meets from 8 a.m.-noon at 4601 Valleydale Road.