Originally published in the Mobile Bay Times on April 3, 2012.
By The Clever Cleaver
A box of Alabama delivered right to your door.
Before you begin envisioning Nick Saban standing on your stoop, please allow me to cast the dye of dispersion onto your gaming table. I am speaking of something bigger than that. So big that Coach Bryant himself (yes, I paused to genuflect) would have been proud of this effort of which I am going to share. He was after all, a farm boy and as such never forgot his agrarian roots.
The name of the organization is Grow Alabama and the concept is brilliant in simplicity. Alabama produce (predominantly anyway) harvested each week on Monday or Tuesday and delivered to Lower Alabama on Wednesday. Fresh, enticing, delicious and dedicated to promote the farming of “table crops” in our beloved state.
Founder and President Jerry Spencer began by growing his own veggies on his farm near Birmingham and offered selections to local restaurants and word quickly spread in the community. Jerry did some research and realized that Alabamians were spending about $50,000,000,000.00 annually on farm products grown in other states, harvested, packed and shipped across several states before even being offered in the grocery store.
Jerry envisioned a fresher alternative and a way to keep those agriculture dollars in our state. Hence Grow Alabama was born.
Seasonal crops from farmers all across our state are available for direct delivery to a communal drop off point(s) in a particular community or, for a small fee, delivered right to your door each week.
The ability to draw from the entire state ensures a variety of products and helps to combat problems faced by growers such as weather. Jerry recalls the drought in south Alabama last year that hampered the sweet corn crop. Grow Alabama customers were fortunate to have corn grown in the northern part of the state.
Geographical boundaries are also overcome as those delicious Chilton County peaches will soon be available here and strawberries grown in abundance here will be shipped to parts north.
Jerry’s philosophy is that if we buy it, they will grow it.
Most table produce is grown on relatively small farms that do not qualify for government subsidies and as such often fall into the scope of larger operations that lease or purchase the land and grow those crops that the government mandates such as feed corn for ethanol, soy beans for non-direct food consumption or other subsidized products.
The vision of Grow Alabama is to increase both the demand and the awareness of the table food farm in our predominantly rural state.
I think you would agree with me that locally grown produce also just tastes better than mass produced dietary staples.
With a bow to the late great Jerry Clower, ‘Put some South in your mouth’ and join me by trying a box of produce packed especially for your family, grown and cultivated by the sun and the sons of Alabama.
Ward “Cleaver” has been involved with the culinary community in the greater Mobile area for many years. Join him every Sunday morning at 9 a.m. on FM talk 106.5 for Mobile’s only restaurant and food themed radio show –The Epicurious Hour. Have a question or comment? Email firstname.lastname@example.org