Where’s the Dirt?

Tuesday I had the opportunity to visit with Steve Carpenter of Jack-O-Lantern Farms in Muscle Shoals, AL (which is in North Alabama near Florence). 
They grow produce hydroponically which means they grow their plants in a mineral solution and not in soil! It was very interesting to learn about the different methods he uses to grow plants. His tomatoes, lettuce and peppers are grown in this way. 
 He does grow some of his fruits and vegetables traditionally in a garden type setting, but since people typically think of farmers as being someone who plays in the dirt it was a very cool setup. They sell their produce to some of the restaurants in the Florence area, including the 360 Grille which is a landmark in Florence. They also have a farmers market Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday where anyone can come buy their produce. Want to know more? You can find out more about Jack-O-Lantern Farms at their website http://www.jackolanternfarm.com/ and also in the October edition of the Alabama Cooperative Farming News Magazine or on their website http://www.alafarmnews.com.

Tis the Season for Farmer’s Markets

Summer is upon us which means that it is time for local fruits and vegetables! Farmers markets across the country are open and the first fruits and vegetables are coming in. Farmers markets can range in size and products. The little town I live near of Webster,SD (pop. ~1,950). Webster has a market each Tuesday, however the 2 weeks it has been open this season there has not been many vendors only 2 or 3. Today however I was in Aberdeen, SD (pop. ~26,000) and was able to stop by their market!

In the Dakotas there are not many fresh vegetables coming in right now. There were 2 vendors selling vegetables, but there were an abundance of other people selling goods they had made.
This gentleman was selling cheese his wife had made. It was very delicious!
The few people who had vegetables for sale had lines wrapping all around the 4 corners of the tent.

Honey, which is very good and sweet up here since it is from clover.
Lye soaps
and even a guitarist was a plucking away.
Elizabeth who is married to the preacher at the church I have been attending comes each week to sell some of her items and sweets. She is one of the craftiest people I know and has such cute things.
She hand paints little people and had on display today a super hero set, Disney princess set and a custom set of her family!
She also makes and sells dinosaur towels. Her little boy Isaac (who unfortunately was sick today) loves to parade around in it at the farmers market and at home after his bath. A little boy at the market modeled today.

She makes them in all kinds of colors for boys and girls. If you are interested in purchasing any of Elizabeth’s products she can be reached at elizabethopheim@gmail.com and is hoping to set up an Etsy shop soon!
Farmer’s markets are a great place to support local farmers and buy fresh produce. This is the time of the year to enjoy those fresh fruits and vegetables.
To find your local farmer’s market in Alabama you can go here: http://www.fma.alabama.gov/FMCounty.aspx 
To find farmer’s markets in other parts of the country use USDA’s market finder: