Farming in Macon County Alabama (which is part of the Black Belt), has always been important to people living in this area. And thanks to the Tuskegee University College of Agricultural, Environmental & Nutritional Sciences, it’s becoming more lucrative.
It all started when a group of community people thought it was a good idea to have a farmer’s market in downtown Tuskegee. Back in 2003, one of the people involved in the development of the Macon County Farmer’s Market was Miles Robinson, who is the Strike Force Director for Tuskegee College of Agricultural, Environmental & Nutritional Sciences and serves as Social Director of the Small Farm Outreach, Training and Technical Assistance Project.
A proposal submitted by Tuskegee University to the State Department of Agriculture was funded for the construction of the market with lots of other resources donated locally toward this project. First Tuskegee Bank donated Land, Tuskegee University purchased a lot adjacent to the donated lot and the Macon County Commission donated a lot for the Macon County farmer’s Market.
Many others involved such as local farmer Al Hooks who has been a mainstay, Willie Warren, Mrs. Shirley Bradford and local architects primarily Major Holland, who contributed his time and talent to the development of drawings and plans used to transform the property. Additionally, attorneys and businesses as well as local citizens contributed their time and efforts without cost. This was a total community effort that proves when people come together and work towards a common goal success can be accomplished.
Some of those same farmers that were onboard in the beginning, including Mr. Al Hooks and his son Demetrius and Mr. Warren, were part of the Macon County Farmer’s Market family. Through help from the Tuskegee University College of Agricultural, Environmental & Nutritional Sciences, these farmers were doing business with large corporations such as Walmart, Whole Foods Market in Birmingham, Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center and several large restaurants in the region.
The Hooks family has been farming for four generations (since the late 1800s) and is presently farming more than 200 acres growing collard greens, shell peas, strawberries, watermelons and other seasonal crops. Al Hooks Produce is located at 6190 County Road 30, Shorter, AL, 334-328-2781 or 334-439-9471.
The Lee family relocated from New York and settled in Macon County. The Lee’s operate a smaller farm (approximately 70 acres) in the Brownsville community of Macon County and have been farming in this area for more than 25 years. They currently grow collard greens, mustard greens, peas and watermelons on their 70-acres of land. The Lee’s farm is located at 6375 County Road 24, Tuskegee, AL, 334-233-2814.
This story and several other interesting articles are featured in the 2013 edition of The Tuskegee Macon County Tourism Resource Guide