White Peake Market In Woodville Offers Local Produce and Products
In 2019, Huntsville residents Mary Peake and her husband, Kirk, purchased a farm in Woodville. The couple had long wanted to own land and they knew this was the right place when they found it.
Mary’s mother, Sally White, always had a green thumb, so the Peakes designated a couple of acres of their property just for Sally‘s garden. She did the planning, and Mary and Kirk helped with the planting, tilling and harvesting.
“The garden did well that year,” Mary says.
So well, in fact, that after a good first growing season, the Peakes decided to sell their produce at the Madison County Farmers Market in Huntsville. In the second year of planting, they added pumpkins to the mix.
Business began to pick up and the Peakes realized a need in the community they could help meet — a place for people to buy fresh produce without having to drive too far.
Also, they grew tired of shuttling the produce to and from the farmers market week after week, so they considered other, more permanent options for their growing business.
Growing Food, Building Community
In the winter of 2021, Sally noticed a building for sale in Woodville, only about a mile and half from the farm. The family considered the new location and decided it would be the perfect spot to sell their produce.
“Things started coming together and we felt led by the Lord that this was the right direction,” Mary says.
During this time of growth, Mary decided to ask her sister-in-law, Deidra White, if she would like to get involved as the manager of the store. Deidra, who lives in Owens Cross Roads, agreed and began helping develop a plan for the market to thrive.
The family decided to keep things simple in the beginning and only sold produce. The first spring crop was planted in April 2022 and the White Peake Market opened that May, welcoming customers every Saturday through November.
The first “official” season went well and the family loved the positive reception from people in the community. They’ve made contacts and built relationships with other local farmers to help fill in the gaps where their own produce offerings are limited.
“We’re just doing everything we can to try and give people enough variety so they can shop,” Deidra says.
Today, White Peake Market offers everything from locally grown fruits and vegetables to honey, farm-fresh eggs, handmade soaps, crafts, home decor made by local artists and fresh-cut flowers.
Sally’s baked goods are a staple item offered in the market. “She’s famous around here for her baking,” Mary says.
Sally learned to bake by watching her mother and grandmother, and also credits her home economics teacher in high school with helping her hone her skills. She raised 5 children, making them homemade biscuits every morning and cinnamon rolls during the holidays. Sally uses that same cinnamon roll recipe for the ones she sells at the market, and whenever Mary smells them baking, it takes her back to Christmas Eve as a child.
“She’s always had a fondness for baking,” Mary says. “It’s how she expresses her love for people.”
The building that now houses White Peake Market was the train depot in the early 1900s, and was moved to its current location from another spot in town. Earlier in its history, an addition was constructed on the building and that market occupies that space. The original depot area — featuring hand-hewn beams and other original design details — is currently closed off. The White Peake Market team has plans to work on reviving that part of the building during the winter, after the market closes for the season.
The Christmas Market, which was in November, was a way to bring the community together to end the season with something fun. “Since produce has slowed down, we wanted to pull together some crafts, holiday decor and something people could buy as gifts for friends and family,” Deidra says.
A concrete 2023 opening date is not yet set, but the family plans on returning in the spring. “I think you’ll see in the next couple of years it will look very different,” Mary says. “The potential for growth is there.”
Deidra says they will use the offseason to figure out the logistics to stay open later into the year and to continue to improve what they’ve established.
“The first season has been really humbling,” Deidra says. ”The response from the community has been incredibly flattering. Who are we? We’re just outsiders who got a farm and a building, they’ve all been so accepting of our presence.”
When customers shop locally, not only do they help stimulate the economy, but they gain a sense of community and a connection with the products and the people they’re buying from.
“Small businesses are the backbone of this country. When you shop local, you’re supporting a family, not a corporation. We are trying to support the local community by providing an outlet for other artists and farmers to have an outlet for their things as well,” Mary says.