SYLACAUGA – The summer season of the Sylacauga Farmer’s Market got off to a strong start Friday, with seven local vendors offering an array of colorful produce.

“Each of the vendors will have different things as the season progresses, but it’s a good cross section,” said market director Tom Roberts. “We have two Chilton County farms selling great peaches, and honestly, peaches are the biggest draw to the market.”

The Farmer’s Market will be held at Central Park across from Blue Bell Creameries every Friday through at least August 15, Roberts said. It is open from 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The following farms and vendors are signed on to participate: Postell Farm, Smitherman Farm, Courtney Farm, Good Farm, Century Oak Farm, Holmestead Farm, Dixon Family Farm and Comfort Baked Goods. 

“Having access to produce close to home is good for our regional economy,” Roberts said. “At the same time, when you know who is producing it and where it comes from, it makes you feel better about buying it and it’s a lot more likely to be fresh.”

Gerald Smitherman of Smitherman Farm in Clanton said his farm goes to seven or eight farmer’s markets a week during the summer.

“Farmer’s markets are a great opportunity for us to sell retail, as opposed to commercial, and help our profits, and they’re also a great opportunity for the consumer to buy locally and buy fresh. These peaches I have were just picked yesterday.”

Smitherman said Sylacauga’s market, now in its sixth year, is one of his favorites. 

“This is probably one of the top ones we do,” he said. “Of course, the fact there’s Blue Bell ice cream right across the road doesn’t hurt.”

Farms had a wide selection of vegetables and fruits available Friday, with more coming in the weeks ahead. But produce isn’t all you can get – Comfort Baked Goods offers homemade breads, pies, jams and more, and Century Oak Farm sells a variety of homemade goat’s milk products, like soaps, lotions and lip balm.

“Everybody needs a treat,” said Robin Lowery of Comfort Baked Goods in Sylacauga. “This is my third year, and I’ve added a peanut butter and jelly tart and the cutie pies, which are small versions of my regular pies. The fresh-baked breads seem to be my most popular item, because there’s just nothing like homemade bread.”

Lowery said the market adds much to the community.

“It’s a nice gathering place,” she said. “Neighbors meet each other here and chat. And it’s wonderful to be able to buy locally grown.”