Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Homegrown Alabama farmers market returns today


If you tend to prefer the juicy, red sweetness of fresh strawberries, the watery crunch of locally grown lettuce and the warm, gooey flavor of homemade pie over the taste of frozen dinners and dining hall delicacies, you are not alone. The students running Homegrown Alabama Farmer’s Market have got your back.

Homegrown Alabama Farmer’s Market is the only entirely student-run farmer’s market in the state. The student team will host Homegrown every Thursday from now until November, from 3-6 p.m. on the front lawn of Canterbury Episcopal Church, just across Hackberry Lane from Burke Dining Hall. They accept Bama Cash in addition to cards and cash.

“Our slogan is ‘know your food, know your farmer’ — that’s what the whole essence of the market is,” said Reid Mallette, a junior majoring in chemical engineering and one of three co-managers for the market. “We just want to show people that this is real food; this is what real food looks like. It just came out of the ground —  sometimes it still has dirt on it! It’s a really cool opportunity to bring farm fresh food and local food to the university, to students and to the community.”

Homegrown got its start over 10 years ago. Since then, it has evolved and grown in number of vendors and team members.

The market features a multitude of different vendors. They are a low-competition market, which means no two vendors are exactly alike. Fruit and vegetable vendors who may be offering the same item make sure to sell their wares for the same price.

Each week brings a different variation of vendors, but Homegrown typically offers fruit, vegetables, coffee, tea, homemade bread, homemade baked goods, ice cream, honey, herbs, pork, beef, chicken, eggs, hand-made soap and art from independent artists. They’re only lacking a flower vendor, but they are actively seeking one out. Every market also features live music, usually performed by a student, but always a local musician. In fact, everything featured at Homegrown is local. In order for goods to meet market qualifications, all goods have to be grown or made in the state of Alabama.

The freshness of the food contributes to the quality of the products and creates a hometown atmosphere that is appreciated by those who attend and run the market.

“What’s so cool about it is the shared love for real food and farming and markets,” said Sarah Silaski, a junior majoring in economics and finance who also co-manages the market. “Also, the atmosphere of it is really cool. It’s shared between people whose ages are so different and walks of life are so different, but we all have this one common goal of bringing local, good food and good stuff to the community.”

The market also has a voucher program that allows those in need to have access to fresh food. Canterbury Episcopal Church has a food pantry, Deacon’s Deli,  every week that gives canned and frozen meals to people who might otherwise go hungry. During Homegrown season, they give out vouchers, which act kind of like gift cards at the market, instead so patrons can enjoy the taste of farm fresh food rather than canned items.

Homegrown’s community-centered mission has kept shoppers coming back every season. Irene Evans has been attending the market for about 10 years now, and throughout that time the market has become somewhat of a family event for her and her children. In addition, her son, Parker Evans, sometimes plays music for the market.

“For me, it’s a bright spot in my week,” Irene Evans said. “It’s almost like a small festival that’s held every week. I love buying from local farmers, and I’m getting to know them, and I feel like they know my whole family. It’s just a relaxing time, and a fun time. I always like the challenge of seeing if I can come up with supper with the vegetables available on Thursdays.”

Managers and shoppers alike urge newcomers to give the market a try for the healthy, fresh food, the proximity to campus and the close-knit, community vibe.

“It is just a different little world there at Canterbury on the front lawn once a week,” Evans said. 

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