Woes Continue for County Market; Farmers Consider Other Outlets for Produce Sales

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – The beleaguered conversation regarding the future of the Madison County Famers Market Continued at a county commission work session Wednesday.

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.

As it stands, the market currently has no manager and there have been no decisions made yet about when and for how many days a week the market will reopen.

Farmers and local growers are so concerned about what the future will hold, they are turning to other outlets.

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

"Right now there doesn't seem to be any one person in charge of anything going on, so there's nothing happening," says Mary Stallings, Chairwoman of the Madison City Farmers Market.

Stallings helps run the Madison City Market which despite its contract with the city of Madison, is considered to be more of a privately held venture because they don't deal with any arching oversight from the county or city.

Stallings says the early closure of the county market last year took just about everyone by surprise.

"This year they weren't notified that that market wasn't going to be available."

Stallings says some who have counted on the county market for years are now getting in touch with their Madison City counterparts to explore options for winter produce.

"I have had farmers calling me asking if we have considered starting our season earlier because they count on being able to go to the county market and sell what little they might have in the winter time and early spring."

Right now the talk is that it may be May or June time frame again before the county market opens again. It's the longest standing market, it just happens not to be in the greatest location. It's been decades since Memorial Parkway around Cook avenue boasted residential lots and the highly commercial location doesn't get a lot of visibility despite its longevity.

Stallings says the younger generation who frequent some of the new markets such as the one at Bridge Street, which closed after just two years, and at Greene Street likely don't even know the county market exists.

She says the county market could use a good leader, some tender love and care, a minor facelift and some major promotion.

"They need to do something to make it a destination, "says Stallings, "to draw people to it."

The Madison City Farmers Market takes place on the lawn in front of the Madison Senior Center beside Discovery Middle School and is scheduled to start up again the second weekend in April. The market is in its third year of operation.

Unfortunately, no decision has yet been reached on when the Madison County Farmers Market will open and for how many days a week farmers can expect to sell their goods.

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