The Farmers Market at the Shoppes at Eastchase opens this weekend. Contributor Jennifer Kornegay gives you five tips to get the most out of your trip to the market any time you visit!
The Shoppes at EastChase is one of the capital city’s most diverse destinations for retail therapy, packed with major national names like H&M, DSW and GAP. But on summer Saturdays, things get a little more local.
Beginning bright and early (at 7 am), the crowds start to wander among rows of pop-up tents lining one section of the parking lot, and they come to fill up on wholesome, farm-fresh fruits and veggies, dairy delights and more at the EastChase Farmers Market, Montgomery’s largest seasonal farmers market. Ranked among the top 5 largest farmers markets in the state, its no wonder it’s a popular Alabama attraction.
Since it combines three of my favorite things – shopping, food and farmers – I frequent the market (though I’m rarely there before 9 am), and I’ve got a few tips for getting the most out of the experience.
- Go armed with a plan, but be flexible.
Think about the things you like to eat, what will work with your menu for the upcoming week, or if there is something you’d like to buy in bulk and can or freeze for winter. Then make a list based on those thoughts. But don’t forgo browsing, and go ahead and grab that basket of beautiful zucchini and that huge watermelon if they’re calling your name even if they weren’t on “the list.”
- Keep your cool.
There are several farmers selling meats (all-natural chicken and wagyu beef) and cheeses at this market, and if you’ve got much of a drive back home, you’ll need something to keep these products cold, so remember to stash a small cooler with cold packs in your car.
- Think past produce.
Nursery plants, lip balms made with herbal oils, handmade and heavenly scented soaps, yogurt, nuts, boiled peanuts, barbecue sauce, relishes, jams, salsas, breads and more can all be found at this market.
- Do NOT overlook the “enjoy-on-site” treats.
You need to stay hydrated to make wise buying decisions, and the vendor selling fresh-squeezed, naturally sweetened lemonade spiked with ripe blueberries has you covered. The Alabama Sweet Tea Company and Prevail Union MGM are usually there offering equally tasty, refreshing libations too.
- Plan your return trips.
The last Saturday of the month they offer a garden cart giveaway with an entire cart full of items from market vendors and a $50 gift card to The Shoppes at Eastchase. They also feature cooking demonstrations by Itta Bena, Firebirds and more on the last Saturday of the month.
The Shoppes at EastChase Farmers Market is open May 14 – October 22 on Saturdays from 7am – Noon!