Story by Cinthia Rico
The Mentone Farmers Market moved to its present location in Mentone in 2010.
Market Manager Harriet Turner said the market has been operating year-round for about eight years.
“The market is at the corner of [Scenic Hwy] 89 and Alabama Hwy 117. Our selling hours are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays,” she said.
Turner said as a year-round market, they were able to continue operations through the last few months because farmers markets such as theirs were considered essential.
She said some of the vendors had not sold at the market, but in general, the majority stayed on schedule.
“We have had a lot of repeat vendors now for several years, and I’ve had several new vendors that I have been in contact with for the last several weeks,” said Turner.
Vendors and growers participating in the Mentone Farmers Market range from produce to bakers to homemade goods.
“We have one baker that specializes in canned bread, sourdough and she also makes some cheddar and herb bread. Then we have another one who specializes in sweet style bread,” Turners said.
Value-added products categorized as having a change in the physical form are also available, Turner said farmers that don’t have anything to grow during certain seasons bring products such as jelly or peppers.
Also available from time to time are the four main meat groups, including pork, beef, chicken and as of recent turkey products.
“We have pork pretty steady and chicken has been hard to come by right now because everyone has been ordering the chicken from the folks before they can be processed to bring it to the market,” said Turner.
She said although the strawberry season is almost over, they still have some and in a few weeks, there will be blueberries coming in.
“Other things such as apples and peaches will also come along,” Turner said.
Aside from the produce, bread and meats, there are also a variety of vendors who offer handmade items.
“We enjoy having people come out. The vendors are from a variety of places, so we have an interesting variety of items,” said Turner.
The market takes place in rain or shine. Turner said it’s recommended for their vendors to have tents for that reason and because their goods may need shade.
Following suit with the other farmers markets in the state, the Mentone Farmers Market will adhere to the Alabama state COVID-19 guideline and the Farmers Market Authority.
“We are supported by the Farmers Market Authority, and they have sent us guidelines that were parallel to the governors. We are going to try to stick to some of those, a lot of it is just common sense,” she said.
Turner said instead of just having hand sanitizer, and they have portable hand washing stations that have soap and water.
“We are also restricting access to dogs, and in general, we try to stay as far apart as we can,” she said.
Following the guidelines provided to them by the Farmers Market Authority, all vendors are wearing gloves and are not offering any kind of samples.
Turner said there were already guidelines in place they follow year-round for food safety reasons.
“Things are moving along as far as the produce, and the weather is starting to cooperate a little better. We are hoping the standard produce will come along and not be affected by the rain,” she said.
According to The Mentone Farmers Market Facebook page, its purpose is to bring together the people of neighboring communities and to serve as a resource for education on the advantages of sustainable local food production as well as providing a setting for the community to access fresh, local produce, meats and value-added goods.
Turner said they are hoping to have a good summer and generally have a good time at the market.
“We just have to remember not to socialize as much as we used to even though the governor has opened the state up,” she said.
For additional information and updates, visit Mentone Farmers Market on Facebook @mentonefarmersmarket. Their physical address is 6139 Alabama Highway 117 in Mentone.