New vendors highlight Bessemer Farmers Market’s 2017 season

The Bessemer Farmers Market had a strong 2016 and is focused on an even stronger 2017.

The Bessemer Farmers Market will start its 2017 season on Thursday, June 1, at Alex Bradford Park on First Avenue North in Historic Downtown Bessemer. The market season this year will stretch from June through September. Hours of operation will be from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.   In addition, the Bessemer Farmers Market is partnering with UAB Medical West to bring a farmers market to the hospital each Monday, starting June 5. Hours of operation at the hospital will be from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.   In addition to the new partnership with the Medical West, Market manager Joe Openshaw says the farmers market has commitments from several new vendors for this season. At least 16 vendors have committed to bring their products to the market. Another three to four vendors have indicated to Openshaw that they would like to bring their items to the market later in the summer.  The items for sale this year will include produce such as peppers, watermelons, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, farm-raised eggs, honey, plants, oils,  herbs and pastries. Other vendors have expressed an interest in bringing fresh meat, seafood, art and hand sewn goods.   At least two food trucks are interested in participating in the farmers market and Magic City Sweet Ice plans to bring its popular products to the market again this year. “I think we’re going to have a good variety of things to sell this year,” Openshaw said.  The BFM has been operating in Bessemer since 2011. It is the only state certified farmers market opearting in western Jefferson County. Vouchers are available to seniors to help them purchase products from the market. The market also takes SNAP.  The goal of the farmers market can be considered two-fold. One of its goals is to serve as a way for fresh, locally grown produce to get into the hands of Bessemer area residents. Its second goal is to provide an outlet for local farmers to sell their products. “It benefits the local farmer and the community at large,” said Openshaw. Openshaw said farmers participating in the market come primarily from Jefferson County, including small farmers from the Bessemer area and Hueytown. But farmers came from as far away as Springville and Clanton in 2016. Last year the city of Bessemer was awarded a Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP) grant from the White House. A portion of the grant funds awarded to the city is being used for advertising for the farmers market. The goal of the marketing push is to make more people aware of the farmers market’s presence in downtown, although word is getting out. “The market has grown each year,” said Openshaw. “There was one year where weather affected it badly, but all-in-all, the trend has been growth.” To learn more about the Bessemer Farmers Market, contact Openshaw at (205) 907-4099 or visit its website at