Sometimes, it is all in the name. Almost 30 years ago, Alice Farmer started ‘The Farmer Market’ in Scottsboro, a roadside fruit, vegetable and flower stand that has grown into a popular site for delicious garden treats throughout the growing season.
Elizabeth Stewart, her niece, has operated the stand for ten years.
Some of the items at the market include, watermelons, potatoes, peaches, cucumbers, onions, cantaloupe, okra, farm fresh eggs and even Amish butter.
“We grow some of the things we sell,” Stewart said, “and we also buy from local farmers as often as possible.
“Right now,” she continued, “we are getting local strawberries from the Mud Creek area every day. They are beautiful and taste delicious.”
Stewart loves working at the market and said her favorite part of what she does is getting to know the customers.
“We have so many regular customers,” she said. “They are literally from generation to generation. If the grandma shopped here and the momma shopped here, then the kids shop here, too. In the winter, we are shut down for five months, so if I don’t see our regulars right away when we open, I worry until I do.
“I have no idea how many customers we have,” she continued. “Sometimes they come in twice a day getting something for lunch and something for dinner.”
The market provides a service to people who otherwise might not buy produce for fear of wasting it.
“We don’t sell in bulk,” Stewart said. “Not everybody needs a bushel of green beans at one time. If they need a large, large quantity of something, they usually go to the County Farmers Market.
“A lot of people live alone and don’t need to buy a whole bag of something,” she continued. “We sell them one or two of an item if that’s what they need. We also try to keep their favorites in stock.”
Some of those hard-to-find favorites include green tomatoes, yellow watermelons and red tomatoes that are larger than softballs.
“Those are great for tomato sandwiches,” she said.
One of the busiest times of the year for the market is happening now.
“In the summer, when everyone is grilling out, it gets real busy,” Stewart said. “People want fresh vine-ripened tomatoes for burgers and they want a good, sweet watermelon if it’s hot outside. They can find just what they need right here.”
Choosing the perfect watermelon, which, according to Stewart, is “sweet, juicy and red,” is not the easiest thing in the world, but she has a few tips:
•Thump it. If the melon sounds dense, it is probably over-ripe. It should sound nice and hollow.
•Look at the color. If it is dark green with a yellow patch on the bottom, that is good sign.
•A watermelon should feel as heavy as it looks. If you pick up a big watermelon and it is as light as can be, it is probably green on the inside.
Even if those tips somehow fail, customers at The Farmer Market need not worry.
“We guarantee our watermelons,” Stewart said. “If you are disappointed with it, just tell me why and I’ll make it up.”
Regular customer, Sandra Anderson, loves the market.
“Last week, I bought tomatoes, cantaloupe, green plumbs, ripe plumbs,” she said. “This week, I’ve come back for more.
“The tomatoes taste like you grew them in your own garden,” she continued. “They are delicious and I’ve told everybody about them. I love everything here.”
The Farmer Market is located beside Taco Bell and is open seven days per week.
“We are here every Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” Stewart said, “and on Sundays from 12 noon to 4 p.m. If we have to pick something up from out of town, we may run a tiny bit late, but we will be here."