By ANNA CATE LITTLE
A bigger and better farmers market is coming to downtown Homewood, and what better way to kick it off than with a “Spring Green Shopping Fling!”? (Say that three times fast.)
Urban Cookhouse will once again partner with the Homewood Chamber of Commerce to host a 15-week farmers market. The event begins on May 21, promptly at 7:30 am. This year’s market will expand from just farmed produce to specialty food vendors and creative artisans. All chamber-member merchants will open their stores early and offer deals you won’t find any other day of the year.
“Market in May really worked well last year and helped introduce the farmers market to the community,” said Tricia Ford, executive director of the Homewood Chamber of Commerce.
This year the market is moving around the corner to the parking area behind SOHO. Vendors will pay a mere $25 for a tent, table and chairs provided by the Chamber of Commerce. The new locale will allow for more space as the event expands from just a few farmers to accommodate up to 20 vendors. “The new location is on city property and won’t interfere with business or parking,” Ford said. “Access will be a lot easier.”
As for the one-day shopping event, patrons can’t miss the large green bows on the doors of participating merchants in downtown Homewood and Edgewood. “Our members will have sidewalk sales starting at 7:30 with huge discounts,” Ford said. “It will be a crazy, mad shopping day for everyone involved.” Live music and other entertainment will be provided as well.
As Urban Cookhouse approaches its one-year anniversary, owners Andrea and David Snyder can proudly say their idea, or dream, is working. “The mission of the restaurant is to support local farming, whether that be in buying produce directly from farms, helping out an individual in time of need, organizing the farmers market or providing compost for the Rosedale Youth Garden,” Andrea said.
Each of these missions has firmly taken root and continues to thrive. When Owl’s Hollow farm of Gadsden was in crisis after snow and ice severely damaged its greenhouse, Urban Cookhouse took action. On a typical night, they sell about 15 take-home meals in addition to in-house dining. But after a much-publicized event on February 9, the restaurant sold 300 take-home meals, with 100 percent of the proceeds going straight to their friends at Owl’s Hollow.
“Owl’s Hollow is back on track,” Andrea said. “The thing about farming is it’s very difficult to do as your fulltime job. Many of our farmers have other day jobs, but farming is their passion. That’s why we chose to reach out to Owl’s Hollow because he has been doing this his whole life and it’s his livelihood.”
Urban Cookhouse also donates its vegetable waste to serve as compost for the Rosedale Youth Gardens project, known as Nehemiah’s Quest. This community program has taken several vacant Rosedale lots and allowed youth residents to build and plant gardens, teaching them the value of greenspace, cultivating and even business practices. Fittingly, the youth will be selling their own plants at the farmers market as well.
It seems Tricia Ford and her Chamber team and the Urban Cookhouse family have found a perfect match. “I had always wanted a farmers market here but didn’t have the time or resources,” said Ford, who had previously worked with David on the Zoës Kitchen opening in Crestline. “David knew this was something I always wanted, so it was like a gift from heaven when he walked in the door to discuss the idea.” David, who runs the kitchen at the cookhouse, will offer two cooking demos at the market.
As the Snyders solicit the food vendors, the Chamber team is actively searching for artisan vendors to add to this year’s lineup. Music and live cooking demos from other restaurants are also in the works. “We’re still in recruiting phase, but it’s definitely on,” Andrea said. “We have a good, solid crew that’s going to be there every weekend.”
Those sure to make a market appearance throughout the summer are Owl’s Hollow (hydroponically-farmed produce), Harvest Farm (heirloom varieties), Rosedale Youth Gardens, Lagniappe Bread (sourdough bread), Cahaba Confections (cupcakes, cakes, pies), Dr. Matt Smith (wellness), Ken Easterling (“The Peach Man”) and Monroe Sausage.
Just in time for that summer heat to settle in, downtown Homewood will awake early, with refreshing market treats, breakfast at Urban Cookhouse from 7:30 to 10 a.m. and plenty of bargain shopping. It’s a family event you won’t want to miss!
The Urban Cookhouse Farmers Market runs every Saturday, May 21-August 27, 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., in the parking area behind SOHO.