Homegrown Alabama brings affordable local shopping to campus
Published on May 19, 2015
By: Kelsey Kunstadt
Homegrown Alabama brings local farmers and vendors to students every Thursday from 3-6 p.m. on the Canterbury Episcopal Chapel lawn. The farmers market runs from April 17 through October 23 providing both students and the Tuscaloosa community the opportunity to shop local with fresh produce, baked goods, meats, art and live music.
Homegrown Alabama celebrated its tenth anniversary in April. The student-run organization consists of 25 members and three co-market managers.
Margaret Wilbourne, a junior and co-market manager joined Homegrown Alabama after reading about it on UA Student News during her freshman year. Wilbourne said she has always been interested in sustainability and volunteering, so the market was a great fit for her.
"We are basically a Publix," Wilbourne said. "You can go grocery shopping at Homegrown Alabama and be set for the week."
Wilbourne said the market sells fresh eggs, grass-fed meats and produce. Her favorite regular finds include Chilton County peaches, fried pies, sunflowers and Homegrown Ink's famous barbeque sandwiches.
Wilbourne said she has been working with Homegrown Alabama for three years and enjoys working with kids at the arts and craft table. She said kids made sashes for Mother's Day with local vendors' herbs to give their mothers a gift while they shopped.
Mary Clay Kline, another co-market manager, said the market is supported by the Tuscaloosa community and within the market itself. Homegrown Ink's barbeque sandwiches are made from one of the vendor's grass-fed pork.
"People these days don't think about their food or know that most blueberries come from Chile," said Kline, a freshmen nutrition major.
Kline said all of the baked goods sold at the market are homemade. Hippie's fresh chocolate kahlua pies are made from scratch with her own ground up grain for the dough. Homegrown Ink's barbeque sandwich buns are also made from scratch.
Kline said other popular vendors include the Tea Town truck, which features all organic teas. AA Creamery sells homemade ice cream with unexpected flavors such as sweet potato pecan, blueberry and cherry vanilla.
"My involvement with Homegrown has allowed me to meet so many different students, staff and of course farmers in the Tuscaloosa community," said Julie Buzzard, a Homegrown Alabama volunteer. "Homegrown Alabama has come a long way in10 years and it really has impacted UA and the surrounding areas "
In the past, student organizations such as Diabetes Education Team, Student Dietetic Association, Alabama Environmental Council and the Food Recovery Network have volunteered with Homegrown Alabama.
"We love to have different organizations set up a table," Kline said. "It is a really good opportunity for us to get traffic."
The Book Arts Program, part of The University of Alabama's MFA program, makes hand printed posters which are also sold at Homegrown Alabama.
Wilbourne said Homegrown Alabama's management team frequently goes on farm visits. Students get the opportunity to see local vendors' farms and make sure they are following all guidelines and are not using any GMOs.
Wilbourne said each month Homegrown Alabama has different themes to promote eating seasonal fresh produce. Past themes included Strawberry Fest, Sweet Potato Fest and Back to School barbeque featuring a taste content of the vendors' different barbeque sauces.
Kline said Canterbury Episcopal is a huge partner to Homegrown Alabama. The church allows its lawn to be used every Thursday afternoon in addition to providing grants for Homegrown Alabama.
"Canterbury's student group typically donates the money they raise through parking during football games to Homegrown in the form of a grant, which we use to give $10 bonuses to our EBT customers," Wilbourne said. "So if they buy $10 worth of produce, we give them $10 on top of that using the grant, in total they'll receive $20."
Kline said the market is affordable for students and a great option for them to pick up a healthy snack on campus instead of eating chips or out of a vending machine. The market accepts Bama Cash and is the first market in Alabama to accept EBT stamps.
For more information, visit http://homegrownalabama.ua.edu and email
firstname.lastname@example.org to join as a volunteer.
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