By Gerri Miller
I have been a regular customer of Ingram’s’ Farmers Market and Garden Center in Millbrook since it opened last September and have always loved being able to get fresh and local produce and plants. Now the alluring aroma of smoked barbeque has given me another reason to love Ingram’s.
About a week before Labor Day, Mike and Joanne Ingram added barbeque to their ever-growing product line. In the beginning, they sold smoked pork, turkey and chicken by the pound. Now they have added sandwiches and plates (a meat and two sides) to the menu. The meal comes with their signature sauce.
To say that the food is wonderful is an understatement. I visited the market last week and ordered a smoked turkey plate with roasted corn on the cobb, macaroni and cheese, bread and banana pudding. I am usually not a big fan of turkey, but this moist, white delicacy from Ingram’s takes the bird to another level. Mike said he tried three different suppliers before he found the perfect turkey for smoking. The macaroni and cheese was rich and cheesy just like Grandma’s and the roasted corn was simply sumptuous. Mike said people have asked him for the corn recipe, but he prefers to keep it a secret. The banana pudding was rich and delicious and much better than I make at home.
I took some camp stew home to try and it and got a big thumbs up from the family. It is thick and meaty with just the right amount of vegetables. Mike said the store goes through about 60 quarts of camp stew each week. “Our camp stew has become very popular along with our homemade vegetable soup,” he said.
“The response from the community has been great,” he said. “We cook a lot of tailgate food on Saturday and we have regular customers purchasing lunch and supper.”
Other sides include potato salad, cowboy beans, vinaigrette slaw and vegetables of the day. You can also buy whole Boston butts, half and whole chickens and half and whole slabs of ribs, and pork, Conecuh sausage and turkey by the pound.
Mike said he is working on a Thanksgiving menu and you will soon be able to order your holiday dinners. He will also take orders for Indian River fruit in early December.
Another new product line includes casseroles and desserts from Bertelone’s Italian Restaurant in Chilton County. If you have ever driven to Clanton to try their food, you know it is some of the best Italian food in the area. I highly recommend their heavenly strawberry cake, a dessert everyone needs to try at least once. You can pick up a half cake or order a whole cake at Ingram’s. They also carry ten different casseroles from Bertelones and the restaurant’s signature tomato basil soup.
“So many people are busy with work and just don’t have time to cook,” Mike said. “They still want something fresh and homemade to take home.”
If you are looking for fall décor such as pumpkins or mums, you can find them here as well as pansies and flowering cabbages. The market will also have Christmas trees, wreaths and special Christmas gifts such as chocolates and nuts.
“Customers tell me that they come here because each time they shop, they know there will be something different,” Mike said. He said he sells lots of honey that he gets from a Hayneville family that has been in business for more than 40 years. He tries to buy Alabama and locally produced products as much as possible.
“When someone walks through that door, we are going to greet them, help them and carry their purchases to the car if needed,” he said. “A lot of people just come in to talk.”
Mike said he wants to thank his loyal customers as well as his employees who go the extra mile to help customers during their shopping experience.
Samantha O’Bannon is one of those loyal customers. She was there having lunch with her 20-month-old son Stryker the day I visited. She said both she and Stryker love the food and the small-town feel of Ingram’s. “I also like to shop local,” she said.
Mike said he worked in corporate America for years before he and Joanne opened the market and he missed interacting with people on a personal level.
“There’s a lot more to business than just making money,” he said. “I think we should try to be a blessing to people.”
Ingram’s is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday from 1 p.m. through 5 p.m. They serve hot food every day from 11 a.m. till closing except for Sundays. You can also order delivery and carryout on the Waitr app. The market is located in the old Roper’s location behind the Front Porch Grill at 3740 Magnolia Drive in Millbrook.