Alabaster Farmers Market has successful summer despite COVID-19

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – Despite facing numerous challenges, the Alabaster Farmers Market was able to provide more fresh produce for residents of the city than in previous years.

When John Aaron and city leaders began preparing for this year’s market, they could not have anticipated the damaging effect COVID-19 would cause throughout the world. However, with careful planning and precautions, vendors and customers alike were able to connect and delight in healthy locally sourced produce.

“When COVID-19 came on in late February we were talking to the Alabama Farmers Market Authority and getting feedback from the community about how to make this work,” Aaron said. “We were watching to see how it would play out, and at the same time we were trying to recruit vendors to make the market happen.”

Every Saturday since June 13 the market has opened its gates at 8 a.m. so that residents could come and look at the fresh fruit and vegetables offered by an average of 10 different vendors on any given weekend.

“We want to be more than just a farmers market. We want it to be a community event,” Aaron said. “We planned to partner with local schools to have food demonstrations, but we could not because of the pandemic. Once we get through this we are going to involve local schools to put on demonstrations.”

Guests at the market have been extremely thankful to be able to access its resources. According to Aaron, they always come and thank the organizers because there was doubt over whether they would be able to come.

Not only does the market provide a great resource to pick up food, but visitors can also pick up beverages, flowers and woodworking. Alabaster’s library also came out to promote their job training program to those looking for work.

Aaron said that to ensure the safety of everyone, vendors would wear gloves to handle the produce, and the booths they used would provide for social distancing. Masks were encouraged but not required until Gov. Kay Ivey issued a mask mandate this month.

Looking forward to next year, Aaron wants to be able to provide this service for a larger number of people while having more social events if possible.

“We hope to have food trucks next year. We want to have more demonstrations,” he said. “We want to have music. We want to draw on the community for the talents that are out there.”

The last day of the Alabaster Farmers Market will be Aug 1. For more information visit Facebook.com/AlabasterFarmersMarket/.