Locally grown fresh produce. Homemade baked goods right out of the kitchen. Beautiful handcrafted or painted products. Friendly smiles and vendors prepared to give you the breakdown on their wares. If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience where you can find all of this in one place, then step inside Coastal Alabama Farmer’s and Fisherman’s Market (CAFFM) located at 20733 Miflin Road in Foley.
Recently voted as one of the 2021 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Award Winners for Best Farmers Market, it’s easy to see why once you step inside the covered building.
“Everything at the market has to be local, so people know when they come here on Saturdays that everything here is grown in the area, produced in the area,” said Isaac Godfrey, manning the booth for the Forland Family Market. Along with selling products from the Forland family farms, the booth offers produce from other local farmers and vendors who are unable to attend the market days. “Most of the products are not heavily treated or grown commercially, so everything here truly has a hometown, casual market feel.”
CAFFM was built in 2013, and has steadily grown since. Strolling through the market, you’ll find everything from produce, coffee, baked goods, paintings and handcrafted artwork, local honey, fresh fruits, Gulf-caught shrimp and fish and so much more. Each week offers new finds as new vendors come out and join the weekly market. The products offered are ever-changing with the seasons and vendors present on any given Saturday.
Every other week you’ll find Sheila Quick set up with a selection of gluten-free baked goods that, believe it, you’d never guess were gluten-free.
“I have taken some old family recipes and some new-found recipes and tweaked them,” she said. “I tweak them until they get the way that I think they should taste. I try to bring a variety, I’ve got cupcakes, muffins, brownies, blondies and cookies. I just try to make sure everything’s delicious because good gluten-free is so hard to find.” She says she loves setting up her booth at the CAFFM as it gives her the opportunity to meet and talk to people, and the crowds are always great.
Being able to talk to customers is a huge draw for Christina Steffen, co-owner of Artworks Local Arts and Gifts and retired high school art teacher from outside of St. Louis. She moved to Florida seven years ago and now has the time to create her own artwork in her garage studio. She set up booth at the CAFFM for the first time in May.
“It’s fun to meet a lot of people at once and talk about your art,” Steffen said. “If you have your shop it can be a bit difficult sometimes, so this gives me an opportunity to do some things that I don’t get to do in the shop.”
Whereas Steffen began her market experience for the first time in May, others have been setting up as vendors for a long time. Local beekeeper Daryl Pichoff has been a vendor at the market since it originally opened, and he has no intention of stopping.
“I’m here every Saturday - if God wakes me up, I’ll be here,” he said. “I enjoy the market. Number one it’s a fabulous building to come under because you’re protected from the sun and the rain, and you just back your truck up and you can sell off the back of the truck or they provide tables here, which is wonderful. Two, I enjoy the clientele that comes, we have a lot of people who are interested in the bees and the environment, so it gives me an opportunity to be a steward for the bees, and I enjoy telling that story to folks.”
Pichoff says he has approximately seven million bees on his farm, where he produces two types of honey: wildflower honey, which is the best honey if you have pollen allergies as it contains pollens from a multitude of plants all through the seasons, and orange blossom honey that he makes using the oranges from his own orange trees. The orange blossom honey pairs great with hot tea, he said. Pichoff also grows blackberries, blueberries, citrus, and rotational crops including sweet corn, sunflowers, cotton and soybeans.
Pichoff was able to turn his passion into profit, doing something he loves while bringing money into the farm. Kathy Rush, on the other hand, found something she never knew she enjoyed so much thanks to a wild idea from her husband.
“Nine years ago as my husband and I were moving down here, he said, ‘hey, we’re going to roast coffee,’ and my first comment was, ‘why?’” she said with a laugh. She and her husband run Wolf Bay Coffee. Rush says her husband was the coffee drinker, while she preferred tea. Once she and her husband began roasting coffee beans to sell, she realized she had just never had the right cup of coffee before.
“We don’t sell anything that’s over two weeks old,” she said. “We also grind to order. A lot of coffee from stores and even some coffee places can be anywhere from nine to 18 months old, and anything after a month or two, to me, just loses its flavor.”
Wolf Bay Coffee offers a selection of flavors, including Guatemalan, House Blend, and Peru, just to name a few. Rush works with three different importers and has coffee shipped to her home in groups of 40 and 50 pounds. They also offer decaf. Rush says it’s the fresh offerings of the CAFFM that make it the perfect place to sell and shop.
“Everybody here is so friendly, and the fruits and vegetables, the homemade bakery type products, they’re all so fresh,” she said. “It’s just fantastic. The eggs are amazing, what a difference from store bought eggs to eggs where the farmers grind the feed for the chickens!”
CAFFM is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stop by and check out all the local products, chat with the vendors about what they’re selling, and get a fresh taste of what Baldwin has to offer.