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

Student-run farmer’s market returns this fall


By Christina Ausley | Staff Reporter

The recent popularity of Tuscaloosa farmer’s markets, home-grown foods and hand-made products has spurred a variety of weekly and weekend markets throughout the community. This Thursday, step into Homegrown Alabama: a market of hand-pressed flowers, sweet potatoes and greens alongside live folk music. Unlike other local markets, Homegrown Alabama is entirely student-organized. 

“Ten years ago there were very few if any farmer’s markets in the Tuscaloosa area,” said Mary Clay Kline, a senior majoring in journalism and one of the market’s managers. “But there was a group of students who, initially, formed a coalition to get students to eat better, but it eventually evolved into the market we run today.”

Originally, this group of students was also concerned about the lack of available fresh produce offered to them. After furthering their thoughts and hopes to alleviate both the lack of available produce and healthy food options both on and off campus, the coalition developed a market originating at The University of Alabama’s Ferguson Center. 

“At first we just reached out into the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham community and recruited different individuals and families selling their home-grown and home-made products,” Kline said. “Now, we have a handful of vendors that approach us and want to get involved, so it’s really taken off in a positive direction to where many community members want to get involved and help out.”

This fall, the market will offer a variety of new vendors, including two students who began pressing and framing flowers as a side-business. Additionally, the student-run market will offer a Halloween-themed festival offering Greek points to students who attend and support the Tuscaloosa community through the variety of small businesses supplied among the market. 

“The best part is, fall brings in a lot of really fresh and new produce like sweet potatoes, apples, and various greens,” Kline said. “We have so many bright ideas and colors coming to the market this fall and we couldn’t be more excited.” 

Though the market is student-run and organized, the coalition of UA students have brought in a variety of non-student vendors throughout Alabama. Market managers like that of Kline, however, hope to encourage student artists and musicians to reach out and get involved in the market in selling and advertising their home-grown and home-made products. 

This week, one of the market’s folk bands known as The Old Paints will serenade the continued student and civilian shopping as the market continues to open its doors every Thursday from 3 – 6 p.m. at Canterbury Episcopal Chapel. Numerous students hope to attend as they take a break from a busy week of classes.

“As an incoming freshman, it’s nice to know we have markets like these to turn to for fresh foods grown by local community members,” said Zach Griffin, a freshman majoring in political science and communications. “I feel it’s really important other freshman and students in general know about markets like these so they realize there isn’t just the typical fatty and fried foods found all over the south to eat.” 

Individuals like Kline hope to continuously provide a supply of fresh and local foods and products as the market offers a healthy outlet to students throughout campus in a relaxing atmosphere.

“To be honest, farmer’s markets kind of just sell themselves because they’re a relatively picturesque experience,” Kline said. “You have music playing, all of these local vendors and community members, and a dreamy mindset that draws people in, where they can have real conversations with various vendors they’ll form relationships with and hopefully revisit in the future.”

All aspiring vendors and musicians who hope to either attend or get involved in the market, both students and non-students, are encouraged to reach out via [email protected] in the hopes of continuously uniting the Tuscaloosa community, one hand-pressed flower or sweet potato at a time.

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