What’s The Future of the Madison County Farmers Market?

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – From profit hemorrhaging, to extended hours, to management options, the Madison County Farmers Market and its future got a lot of play among county leaders and local growers alike in 2013.

Wednesday, the conversation continued at a Madison County Commission work session.

The farmers market will have a more local feel when it begins selling fresh produce this spring.

The Madison County Commission showed a consensus to re-focus the market on Cook Avenue to showcase fruits and vegetables grown in Madison County, after allowing the previous contract with interim market manager Kenny Brooks to expire in November.

The farmers market was a regular topic of discussion at commission meetings last summer when the county contracted with Brooks to manage the market with commercial sellers competing against local growers.

The business arrangement created "bad blood" with local growers, so the commission recommended ending the practice of having commercial sellers compete with county farmers.

"I think we ought to make it a local market," said District 6 Commissioner Bob Harrison. "The two commercial ends are more trouble than they're worth."

Harrison conceded, though, that some of the market's most successful years happened when the vegetable stands were flanked by commercial bookends.

"When we decided to compete it -- that's when we really got in trouble," he said.

Data collected over the summer showed 90 percent of the market's foot traffic occurred on two days - Friday and Saturday. Commission Chairman Dale Strong said based on the data, he would support the market opening up in spring with that two-day-a-week business model. Phil Vandiver disagrees, though.

"I would suggest three days a week, a Tuesday, Friday, Saturday so produce that is ready on the weekend can have a chance to be sold in the middle of the week," said Vandiver, the District 4 Commissioner.

Phil Riddick suggested he's got 25 undeveloped acres ripe for commercial development off Airport Road near Pinhook Creek and John Hunt Park.

"That might be pretty good place for a farmer's market," the commissioner/commercial real estate broker said with a smile.

riddickRiddick suggested about the only thing the current market location had going for it was that it had been there his whole lifetime - but that the market doesn't have prime location or accessibility on its side.

So could the farmers market see a boost in traffic and visibility at a location off Airport Road? Right now, moving the oldest county market in the state is strictly a suggestion.

No matter what the future of the market, its vendors or its hours of operation, commissioners pledge to continue the conversation right now as opposed to later in order to promote the market's spring opening early and aggressively.


  • Ann Walden

    The present location is much more centralized for the area. Traffic was constant until all the changes started taking place a few years ago. We have already lost the Farmers’ Market that was on South Parkway when their rent we up and they moved somewhere in North Huntsville. It’s hard for Madison residents to go into Jones Valley to buy vegetables.

  • Melissa Nesbit

    This is about the Farmers Market:
    Maybe it should be moved and given new life add some interesting vendors to help bring more shoppers. Like food vendors serving out of the food trucks, or a dairy store that sells local dairy products.
    My parents moved us down to Alabama in 1982 from Michigan and some if the nicest memories was going to Detroit’s Easter Market and Wiards Orchard. So Revamp the Farmers Market the 25 Akers off Airport might be what it needs

    Thanks Melissa Nesbit

  • Michael Kewl

    We went there a few times and rather go to the Winchester Road Farmers Market or when in Decatur to go to theirs next to the downtown RR yard…the Farmers Market is not a real market for local growers, just re-sellers…

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