Farmers market spills over with fresh produce
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Shoppers hunting farm fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables were buying tomatoes, field corn, okra, peppers and watermelons at Hartselle's Farmer Market on Monday. Items in supply but moving at a slower pace included cabbage, figs, apples and pears. In demand but unavailable were sweet corn, squash, butter beans and field peas.
Bill Levens of the Sparkman community had a pickup load of homegrown watermelons he was hawking to passersby.
"Fresh watermelons out of my own patch," he said. "Congo and Crimson Sweet, they're as good as you'll find anywhere."
"I'll vouch for that," said a neighbor who was operating a stand next door. "He cut one early this morning and it was good and ripe and real sweet-tasting.
A farmer tending a stand on the other side of Levens was pushing a new variety of tomatoes the size of walnuts.
"I've never seen little yellow tomatoes like them," a prospective customer said.
"Then you ought to try some of 'em," he replied. "They've got a real tomato taste and their skin is very thin. They'll nearly melt in your mouth."
Dorothy Wood said she is making a trip from Indian Hills Road to the market every two or three days because the deer destroyed her garden.
"I've got to have my fresh vegetables this time of the year," she pointed out.
Another shopper said she stops by on the way back home to Florence after spending weekends with her elderly mother who lives east of Hartselle. "It's handy for me and I've found the quality to be good," she stated.
Levens said the spotty rainfall the county has received over the past month has hurt some growers and helped others.
"This watermelon crop is smaller than what I usually grow because it only got one or two good rains," he pointed out. "But the quality is very good."
He said the farmer's market has been filling up its 10 stalls for two to three weeks and it should continue through September.
"We start getting here around 6 a.m. and usually stay until we've sold out. The best time for shoppers to come is early," Levens said.