For Singin' River to be hosting the College Street Farmers Market is a true honor-- it means a great deal that we are able to provide a space for local farmers to sell and promote their farms. My family is made up of farmers and has been in the agriculture business in this area since the early 1900’s. They raised cattle, grew corn and cotton for cash, and farmed vegetables. Although I’ve never personally had a farm, I grew up on my grandparents farm and saw the blood, sweat, and tears that went into every crop. My grandfather would get off work at 5pm from the state highway department and drive to the farm where the cows would hear his call and start herding towards him like pets, and then he would bush hog until midnight to make sure everything was done in time, while my grandmother canned produce from their personal farm.
Fast forward many years later and I’m excited to be able to help highlight the importance of local farming by opening up Singin’ River LIVE to host the 2018 College Street Farmers Market season from May thru August. The market is made up of local farmers that sell everything from eggs, sausage, cheese, and vegetables, to local vendors who make bread, baked goods, and handcrafted soaps. The result is a wonderfully eclectic neighborhood market that is made up of all sorts of people whose common goal is to provide the best locally produced meat, produce, cheese, baked goods, and overall experience when shopping for cooking and home essentials. The idea of providing a market for farmers to showcase their handwork is nothing new to Florence, Alabama— but a long-practiced tradition that we are excited to bring back to the heart of downtown.
In the 1800’s what is now Wood Avenue was once appropriately named Market Street as it was used by local farmers on the weekends to set up shop as a farmers market on the East side of Wilson Park. Farmers in Lauderdale County, extending all the way to Tennessee would make their weekly trek to line up along the roadside and offer the freshest meats and produce. And up until the 1950’s farmers would travel into specific neighborhoods to set up each week, with residents expectedly arriving each time to buy fresh eggs, milk, and butter. However, as the town grew, the farmers markets became smaller, with the last known market being located at the corner of South Seminary and East Alabama known as a “curb market”. This was an essential and beautiful part of every day life— something to enjoy and participate in each week, and a way to connect with local farmers who were friends and family.
The safety in knowing where your food and drink comes from and engaging in community is exactly the experience we are wanting to create, and a core value that Singin’ River Brewing Company wishes to embrace and strives to accomplish in how we brew our beer and utilize our space for local events. To know your neighbor and invite them into your space is a lost art that we are hoping to revitalize, and we wish for all kinds of people to be able to showcase their talents and use our space to enrich our small town, including our local farmers like Cottonwood Farm and Bluewater Creek Farm who truly embody community, and work tirelessly to provide excellent products that can be enjoyed by Shoals residents. I love that I can call the owners of Cottonwood and Blue Water Creek Farm friends and that I know how much hard work they put into their meat and produce—it makes cooking dinner and feeding my kids that much sweeter and gives me peace of mind that not only is my family eating the highest quality food, but I’m supporting local farmers like my Grandfather.
When you enter Singin’ River LIVE on Thursdays from 3-7pm the farmers and vendors want you to be overwhelmed by the smells, sights, and sounds of the market. In the month of May shoppers can enjoy close to 20 different vendors in LIVE with live music and delicious food by Soul: Wingery & Records in the Taproom at this family-friendly event. Each week there will also be a time for kids to participate and discover different aspects of farm life with a fun craft. We want you to look forward to coming back to purchase fresh eggs, stock up on meat and produce, treat yourself to colorful bunches of flowers, and enjoy live music all the while shopping— it’s an old tradition that we are excited to help bring back so that new generations can understand the value in supporting local business, indulging in farm-to-table ingredients, and participate in true, homegrown Southern community.