State Department of Agriculture visits Calera market

The Calera Farmers Market received state recognition Aug. 3 when Deputy Commissioner Jerome Gray, of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, visited the market.

Gray said he heard about the market after they received the Market of the Month award in July from the Alabama Farmers Market Authority.

He’s been to several of the state’s local farmers markets and the Calera market is one of the best he’s seen, he said.

“It’s the top of the list in terms of local markets,” he said. “The impressive thing is the local support from the City Council and all the volunteers. It also has good hours. It’s not in the heat of the day and people can come by after work.”

During his visit, Gray chatted with several of the vendors while he bought produce. Some of the farmers he already knew by name.

“Getting your food locally and knowing who the growers are is so important,” he said.

Farmers markets like Calera’s do more than just provide fresh food to the community, he said. They also promote Alabama’s agriculture.

“Farmers markets do more to promote agriculture and the importance of local growers than anything else.”

Calera Mayor Jon Graham said the city was appreciative that Gray made the trip from Montgomery to attend the market.

“I think its great,” he said. “His input and opinions have been very helpful.”

Gray said he would like to encourage more people to buy their produce from local farmers markets rather than getting them at chain grocery stores.

“We shouldn’t be spending money on vegetables from other countries when we have local suppliers,” he said. “There’s nothing like a vine-ripe tomato. Who would want to eat something that’s been sitting on the shelf for months?”

The Calera Farmers Market is held from 3-7 p.m. every Tuesday at Oliver Park. For more information visit Calerafarmersmarket.com.