Local produce shines at Free Tomato Sandwich Day

Published 1:00 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2023

VALLEY — A longstanding local tradition continued Friday afternoon with Free Tomato Sandwich Day.

What was started by Evan and Jeanette Mason at Village Curb Market now goes on at Valley Farmer’s Market.

The promotion drew one of the largest crowds of the season at the local market.

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Making the sandwiches this year were two Chambers County commissioners, Sam Bradford and Debra Riley. Major T.J. Wood of the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office, former Valley Police Chief Tommy Weldon, former Valley Council Member Ray Edwards and great grandson Gavin Walden and Valley Parks & Recreation Director Laurie Blount.

The tomatoes were grown just outside LaFayette by long time family farmer Walter Pulliam, who had some of his delicious Mountain Fresh and Early Girl tomatoes for sale at his booth at the farmer’s market. The sandwiches were great, and those in the big crowd who were getting them washed them down with their choice of ice-cold lemonade or ice water.

Pulliam will have some of his watermelons for this year’s Free Slice of Watermelon Day at the farmer’s market on August 11th.

At his booth on Friday he was selling Peaches and Cream corn, yellow crooked neck squash, cucumbers and of course, tomatoes.

Randall McClellan of Fredonia had some of the really good jams, jellies and pepper sauce his wife makes along with beans, pepper, corn and tomatoes.

Mary Ann Johnson of Hamilton had some beautiful Harris Councy-grown flowers for sale at the market. “I have brought some nice color for the Valley today,” she said. “They are pollinator plants that will draw honeybees, hummingbirds and colorful butterflies.”

Honeybees are what Kim Rager raises at the Oak Bowery Apiary in southern Chambers County. Those bees produce pure raw honey two times each year, once in the spring and again in the fall.

“There’s concern about the future of bees,” she said. “Beekeepers are losing their bees. We’ve had too much rain this year, and too many wildflowers have been mowed down.”

Denise Bibb of Five Points had a table full of tasty treats at Friday’s farmer’s market. She made it all herself, and it included buttermilk almond cookies, chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls, blueberry muffins, banana nut bread (an early sell out), wheat and white sandwich bread and sourdough bread.

Mary Finley of Camp Hill had another table filled with tempting treats. It was really tough to pass her table without getting a piece of cake she’d baked.

Gaines and Rita Fetner of Huguley had soap, bath bombs, body lotions and lip balms Rita had made. They looked to be perfect items for that long, relaxing bath you’ve been meaning to take.

Kevin Copeland, who recently moved to Valley from Palmetto, Georgia, has a slogan for his side business: “If You Can’t Smell It, I Won’t Sell It.”

He sells soy wax candles and their fragrant scents are out of this world.

Recent Eagle Scout honoree LilaMae Daughtrey and her mom had their table field with all kinds of doggie treats. The Daughtreys are dog lovers, having four of them. Three of them are rescues. One of them, Sugar, rode on the Timeless Antiques float in last year’s Christmas parade.

Matthew Steele of Steele Produce, Shorter, Alabama has one of the most visited booths at the farmer’s market. On Friday, his tables were filled with peaches, plums, tomatoes, beans, okra, squash, corn, watermelons and cantaloupes. “I thank God on having led a blessed life,” Steele told The Valley Times-News. “The Lord is the head of my life. He’s the one I give all the praise to.”