Local produce finds market

Bob Everett at his Brook Highland produce market, next to Lloyd’s Restaurant.

On U.S. 280 driving toward Birmingham, one may notice the signs and a red- and white-striped tent on the right side of the road.

“Buy Local, Eat Fresh” is the mantra of Local’s Produce owner Bob Everett. His business is in Brook Highland next to Lloyd’s Restaurant.

“I’d not found my passion, so I decided to take a couple of semesters off from school at Auburn,” Everett said, smiling. “I decided to drop back and punt. I do plan to go back and finish school, though, like I promised my grandparents I would.”

When talking with his cousin, Sam Hamner of Harpersville, Everett decided to open a market. Sam and Julie Hamner own Sunbelt Turf Farm in Harpersville, and are partners in Everett’s business, providing many Shelby County-grown vegetables, including tomatoes.

Every item offered at the market is locally-grown produce, like sweet potatoes and melons from Cullman County and peaches from Chilton County. Most items are offered on a fruit stand in the open air, but a cooler holds shelled peas, cakes, watermelons and fresh homemade salsa.

Local’s Produce is a name Everett uses to designate community benefit: the products are both produced by, and are for local folks.

Economic value isn’t the only consideration, he said. The value of locallygrown food is well known from a health standpoint. Less time from farm to market means food richer in vitamins and minerals. Some scientists claim food grown in the soil of your birth land is healthier, better assimilated.

On the flip side, long distance food shipping and warehousing methods include use of chemicals potentially harmful to humans. Food crossing borders into the U.S. can possibly harbor pests and deadly microbes. Inspectors can’t possibly test every item. All these issues ignored, fresh food simply tastes better, and this is the main reason folks flock to Everett’s market.

Everett offers diverse products. Along with fresh items are jars of homemade sauces and preserves made locally and labeled “Crazy Red Headed Fat Girls,” plus an array of fresh baked items. Everett plans to be open through October, offering pumpkins.

“I’d like to incorporate all I’ve learned, and help make Birmingham a better city,” said Everett. “This market is really fun. I meet such nice people, and we take care of one another.”

Today, if all you need is a smile, Everett offers that, too, free of charge.

Gladys Hodge Sherrer can be reached by e–mail at gsherrer07@yahoo.com.