Supporting local growers

Festhalle Farmers’ Market following guidelines during pandemic

Strawberries from Pleasant View Farms in Gold Ridge are seen at the Festhalle Farmers’ Market Tuesday morning. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The COVID-19 pandemic has had an economic impact on many industries this spring. Cullman’s Festhalle Farmers’ Market is open, supporting local farmers and producers.

The Tribune spoke with some vendors at the Festhalle, as well as Cullman Parks, Recreation and Sports Tourism (CPRST) Recreational Development Director Christy Turner to see how the market has fared.

“As more farmers are harvesting produce the traffic is continuing to pick up at Festhalle,” said Turner. “Of course, with strawberry season in full swing that has helped our farmers’ market, and other late-season crops like greens have been selling well.  It is in a time like this we realize how much we value our farmers and vendors and how much fresh produce means to the community. Knowing where it comes from is a huge benefit.  It is reassuring to see how much the community continues to support the market and the people who offer us such wonderful service and produce.”

CPRST has taken measures to ensure public safety at the market.

“We received guidance from the state department of agriculture and have arranged the market in such a way to comply with the best practices advised by the State to ensure the public’s health,” Turner said. “Hand-washing and hand-sanitizing stations are located in the market. These stations are serviced by Festhalle staff. Most vendors have hand sanitizer available at their stalls if needed. We are looking forward to a very safe and successful market season.”

Watson’s Greenhouse Owner Royane Watson offered a different perspective.

“I don’t have produce; I have plants. I’ve sold a whole lot more this year,” she said. “More people are planting garden plants. I guess they have more time to do that type thing.”

Keith Smith of Pleasant View Farms, who offered strawberries and sweet potatoes to customers Tuesday morning when Festhalle opened, shared, “We’ve done good so far. Today’s another day; we’ll just have to see. You can’t ever tell about markets; they go up and down. We’re doing the best we can. We have our people wearing gloves when they pick; we use hand sanitizer when we set up.”

Cullman’s Festhalle Farmers Market is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. through October. The market is located at 209 First Ave. NE.

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Garden plants from Watson’s Greenhouse are seen for sale at the Festhalle Farmers’ Market Tuesday morning. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

Maggie Darnell