In Mobile, Alabama, Christ United Methodist Church serves its community not only through church programs but also through fresh produce. For the last five years, the church has organized a farmers’ market on its property each Tuesday for two months in the summer and eight weeks in the fall. This year, the church is adding a second farmers’ market every Thursday.
The market was started by Cullan Duke, a member of the mission board at the 2,000-attendee church, who wanted to bring the community together and serve both farmers and consumers.
“The goal was to provide a service to people out in the western part of the city, giving them a chance to get fresh produce, and for the farmers too—to give them an outlet to sell their goods,” said Bob McBride, who currently organizes the market.
The farmers’ market started with only four or five vendors but quickly grew in both the number and variety of vendors selling their goods. Now there are farmers who provide fresh vegetables, baked goods, organic meat and even boiled peanuts.
McBride is in charge of coordinating with each of the vendors and collecting their fees, which go back to the church to further its mission goals. McBride’s favorite part, though, is simply chatting with the vendors.
“I’ve become friends with them, just learning about them and what they do,” he said. “That’s the fun part.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of farmers’ markets in the United States has risen steadily over the past 10 years. They are places where communities come together, and connections and friendships are formed. McBride estimates the market has about 500 customers each week.
“Even though we don’t do much as far as publicity, word-of-mouth has gotten out, and it’s increased the number of customers we’ve had,” McBride said.