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Farmer’s Market prepares to open

Baskets of squash, cucumber and red potatoes are just some of the produce available at this year's Selma-Dallas County Farmer's Market. Residents can also purchase okra, peaches, tomatoes and green beans from vendors every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday until November at the Bloch Park Pavilion. --Desiree Taylor

Next Saturday, the Farmer’s Market at the Bloch Park pavilion will have its grand opening. Juicy cantaloupes, peaches, plums, squash, Irish potatoes and more will be sold after being cultivated and grown in Alabama’s famous Black Belt soil.

Market manager and farmer Raymond Harrison said “any vegetable you can think of” will be for sale as well as fruits and assorted melons.

He said he has the best okra in town and those who purchase produce from the market will be able to taste the difference from the supermarket stuff.

“It tastes better because it’s good and fresh and it just came off the farm the day before,” Harrison said, “Supermarket stuff sits for more than 10 days while being shipped.”

The market will open throughout the summer on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. or until the produce is sold out.

At the grand opening next Saturday, Harrison will give out door prizes every 15 minutes. He will hand out free peaches, plums, peppers and more throughout the day.

“It’s fresh and you know it’s right off the farm. You can buy [the produce] from the people who picked it,” Harrison said. “You can’t get any fresher than that.”

Just like in years past, the market will have drawings for free baskets of produce. Because the Farmer’s Market is organized by organizations such as the Dallas County Extensions Office and Vaughan Community Health Services, vouchers and coupons are offered to senior citizens ages 60 and up, as well as Women and Infant Children services.

“We have a horrible amount of diabetes here in the Black Belt,” director of Healthlink Program Kathi Needham said. “When we do screenings in schools we are finding hypertension and obesity in children.”

Health organizations such as the Healthlink Program encourage and promote the Farmer’s Market in Selma because it is healthier for residents to consume non-processed foods such as fresh produce. Needham said there are usually less fertilizers used to grow the produce sold at the pavilion.

“You may get blemished stuff because it is grown more naturally, but it is more along the lines of organic food than what is in the supermarket,” Needham said.

In addition to helping improve the health of the community, the Farmer’s Market gives the Black Belt something else — a chance to put money into the local economy.

All vendors and growers at the pavilion must be within a 50-mile radius of Selma.

“It guarantees you are buying from local farmers if you purchase something from under the pavilion,” Needham said. “The 50-mile radius allows us to sell things like the Chilton County peaches we just couldn’t live without.”