Hidden Gems of Tuscaloosa: Ingram Farms Market serves ice cream and produce to TuscaloosaBy Luci Willis | 06/22/2016 4:55pm
If you’re looking for a place to satisfy your sweet tooth and find fresh produce, John Ingram and his family’s produce stand is the place for you.
Ingram Farms Market is a family owned and operated produce stand in Northport. Though a little off the beaten track, it offers such a wide assortment of produce and other treats that it justifies the detour. Ingram Farms Market is the perfect stop for anyone who wants fresh local produce but cannot wait until the next farmers’ market.
Ingram Farms Market is a roadside produce stand, but in recent years it expanded and became much more. Today, visitors can pick from a variety of fruits, vegetables, plants and even seafood any day of the week.
John Ingram, the owner of Ingram Farms and the market and ice cream shop, said almost all the produce comes from either one of his farms in Holt and Pickens County or other farms across Alabama, Florida and Georgia. He partners with these farms to ensure they have a consistent variety of produce throughout the year.
The building’s brightly colored façade is straight to the point, advertising in bold letters "ICE CREAM SHOP." Those three simple words are enough to convince many to stop in after selecting their peaches and green beans for the week, while others skip the vegetables all together and go straight over to get a scoop of their favorite flavor.
The market offers a variety of Mayfield and Blue Bell flavors that shoppers can choose from before sitting down in the outdoor seating area to enjoy their perfect summer treat.
“We are a little unique in that I’m told we’re now the only true ice cream shop in town, as far as dipping ice cream,” Ingram said.
Ingram Farms Market recently expanded its ice cream selection and moved to a much larger building. It now occupies the former Mexican restaurant on the corner of the road near the produce stand. Ingram said the new space provides plenty of room for people to kick back and enjoy their ice cream indoors or outside.
“It’s been working out," Ingram said. "Our ice cream business has more than doubled since we moved. That’s even in spite of losing the University students for the summer. So maybe when everyone comes back it’ll double again, because a lot of those kids will remember where they got their ice cream from.”
Ingram said the shop has a very loyal following. Even during Blue Bell’s recent troubles, the shop customers begged for him to find some way to keep serving the ice cream.
He said that in order to keep everyone happy, he rigged an open door freezer to a generator in the bed of his pickup truck and drove to Birmingham every day for three months. They bought all the ice cream they could fit in the freezer and drove it all back to Tuscaloosa to sell in the shop.
“Back in the day my granddaddy bootlegged whiskey, and now I bootleg ice cream,” Ingram said.
It is this dedication that brings customers back to Ingram Farms again and again. Ingram said he feels at home at the market, because he was raised on a farm near Troy, Alabama, and he was glad to return to his roots later in life.
“I started this to spend time with my grandkids and give them something to do,” Ingram said. “Now it’s developed into a fairly decent business. It’s given me the opportunity to do something I enjoy and at the same time be involved with my grandkids and University age students.”
Ingram Farms Market is located in Northport on Union Chapel Road, directly across from Munny Sokol Park. It is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.