Local market improves health in rural area

Published 4:35 pm Thursday, June 12, 2014

It’s hard to truly explain the importance of the Selma Farmers Market.

Vickie Chandler has been bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to the Selma Farmers Market since she married her husband, Randy, eight years ago.

And while she was obviously enjoying the business Saturday at the market, Vicky said it was the friendly faces she was most excited to see.

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“It’s like a big family reunion,” Chandler said. “We see people three days a week, all summer long, and when summer is over we don’t get to see them anymore. When the farmers market is back, you get to see the farmers and customers we’ve had for years. I know we have several customers whose parents used to buy from my husband’s mom and dad years ago.”

The farmers market hosted its first day of business of the year on Saturday, and it became clear to me how hard it is to truly appreciate the Selma Farmers Market until you’ve been there.

From the outside, it sounds like any other farmers market; there are fresh foods, farmers and customers.

But spending time at the market reveals so much more.

Not only are there bonds between farmers and customers, but there are also the basics of what makes Selma great.

We live in a beautiful place, but times are tough here.

Along with high unemployment rates, the Black Belt is riddled with areas where residents have little, if any, access to healthy food options.

As crazy as it may sound, while Selma is surrounded by all forms of agriculture, our city is also surrounded by pockets of food deserts.

Food deserts are areas where the inhabitants have lengthy, costly drives to and from the grocery store.

In many cases, it is far more cost effective for people living in rural Alabama to take the family to the local gas station or dollar store. These stores rarely, if ever, offer much in the way of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Markets like the Selma Farmers Market are a way for rural residents to get access to the freshest food available.

Along with the health benefits, money spent at the Selma Farmers Market stays in the Black Belt.

The more customers purchase their fruits, vegetables and bread at the Selma Farmers Market, the more money farmers will be able to pour into their work.

That work will bring a wider variety of goods to the Selma Farmers Market, making the community stronger and healthier.

The farmers market is scheduled to be open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through the middle of November. That provides plenty of opportunities for everyone in Selma to head out, enjoy the market, and make Selma, Dallas County and the Black Belt a little bit healthier.