I love farmer's markets. They read like a seasonal calendar, which they are in a fresh food kind of way. A good farmer’s market begins to burst with color this time of year. I caught up with Darrell Lundy, who with his wife, Sandra, and his 24-year-old twin boys, Ethan and Isaac, and their two sisters, Emma, 20, and Clair, 18 own and operate the family business, Hazel’s Market in Daphne.
Hazel’s Market opened a long time ago and was named and operated by a local woman who lived across the street from its present location. She didn’t own the property but ran it for other folks that owned the building. Darrell Lundy’s parents had been in and out of the produce business most of his life. They had once owned a produce market in Lucedale, Mississippi, and worked several years at a wholesale produce market in Mobile.
Darrell and Sandra grew up in the Mobile area, and when they heard by word of mouth that Hazel’s Market was available, they took the plunge. They leased the property, kept the name, and opened it in 2001. Hazel’s Market closes after the Christmas holidays from January to mid-February, so this is the beginning of their New Year.
“This is the start of the season for us, and ferns are our biggest seller,” says Darrell. When you ride by Hazel’s, the front is a burst of color with blooming plants and beautiful ferns for sale.
The blooming plants sell well in Spring through around Mother’s Day, then it backs off a bit.
Tropical plants become popular as the weather gets warmer. Hazel’s Market sources its plants locally from Elberta to Lucedale. Fruit trees come from Louisiana. “Satsuma trees are the most popular and demand has skyrocketed,” he said. “I think after Covid, people spent more time in their yards planting fruit trees, but after the hard freeze we had this year a lot of the young trees didn’t make it.”
Starting in mid-May, the first local sweet corn begins to arrive and it’s off to the races for summer produce. “It all happens at one time,” says Darrell. “That’s what gets your summer going.” Then Chilton County peaches and local blueberries are popular. Darrell will begin seeing squash and zucchini as the corn plays out at the end of July and local watermelons become available.
By August, Hazel’s is still getting a few peaches, but it’s too hot for local tomatoes. From about mid-July, Hazel’s begins getting tomatoes from Sand Mountain in Alabama, and then Tennessee and North Carolina. “If you don’t have tomatoes, you’re not in business.” Around the first of September, Hazel’s begins selling decorative gourds and flowering mums as Fall approaches.
In October, satsumas are big sellers. “People up north aren’t familiar with satsumas and don’t know what they are. If they try them, they love them and there is a huge demand.” The turnips and collards start in October as well. “We wash, greens three times, clean and strip and destem them by hand,” says Darrell. “Cut vegetables are a big seller throughout the year.”
Around November 15, Hazel’s Market receives their Fraser Fir Christmas Trees, and they sell out quickly in about three weeks. “We have everything from tabletop trees to twelve-foot trees.” They sell lots of garlands and wreaths and they can all be frocked. Poinsettias arrive right after Thanksgiving.
Hazel’s Market carries local peas and beans, shelled and ready for cooking. “That’s really popular,” says Darrell. “We bake fresh banana bread and pumpkin bread that are our biggest sellers.” Sandra and the daughters also bake mini pecan pies, and strawberry and blueberry pies. “Shelled pecans are always in demand, but especially around the holidays.”
Specialty items sold at Hazel’s Market include Kittrell’s Local Honey, Shube Sauce, and Viper BBQ sauce made locally. They have a large variety of preserves to choose from, many of which are “juice sweetened” which is healthier for those with sugar issues. Candied Jalapenos are a best seller during holidays and are great on a ham and cheese sandwich. Their Bread and Butter pickles and the Sweet Fire pickles are very popular.
Darrell swears by the Vardaman, Mississippi sweet potatoes, “They can’t be beaten,” he says. Other popular items include Joyce Cheese Straws and Tailgate Cheese Straws, which people love. Their cakes are made by Dean’s Cakes in Andalusia, and they have a full lineup of Amish-made pasta, butter, and other items. They also sell Conecuh sausage and bacon.
You can purchase Local Appetite Growers Spring Mix when it's available. “People tend to eat more salads in the Summer, and we have a lot of demand for it.” Hazel’s Market carries some great frozen items too, like Kelly’s Biscuits, Homemade Chicken and Dumplings, locally grown shelled peas, and butter beans.
They always have delicious freshly boiled peanuts ready and waiting. For a limited time, they have bundles of Pussy Willow stalks for sale that look great and last forever in a nice vase or tall vessel. You can even get bales of fresh pine straw at Hazel’s Market.
Everything at Hazel’s Market is a treat. Stop by and say hello and get something fresh and good to take home. Shopping locally is important and the Scenic 98 Coastal area has some terrific farmer’s markets from which to choose. Let them know how much we appreciate what they do to enhance our lives!