Farmers’ Market expanding to midweek|[06/25/08]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Locally grown tomatoes, corn, beans, watermelons and other fresh offerings have quickly become the rage in downtown Vicksburg. Now, the birth of a midweek market will bring even more fresh fruits and veggies, said Vicksburg Farmers’ Market volunteer organizer Mary Beth Lasseter.

The seasonal event kicked off less than two weeks ago as an every Saturday affair, and more than 1,000 shoppers stormed the parking area in front of the former Levee Street Depot looking for fresh deals. Since, farmers and produce buyers alike have pointed out the need for another day of shopping for fresh foods.

“The extra day will help us sell all of our produce. If it’s only a Saturday market, all of that produce we picked at the first of the week – we’ll have to throw it away,” said Judy Freeman, who, along with her husband, Bill Freeman, has been selling fresh foods from their local garden since opening day June 14.

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Lasseter said organizers decided to provide the “low-key” market at the urging of the growers, who want to sell their crop before it goes bad in the garden. The first Wednesday market will be July 2 from 4 to 7 p.m. and will continue each Wednesday through the end of the season, which is Sept. 10.

Lasseter said, in addition to providing growers an opportunity to sell more produce, the midweek event will allow people who might not be able to head downtown on weekends to buy fresh foods. At least five produce growers have committed to sell during the week, she added.

“It’s a service to the farmers, but it will also give a greater option for Vicksburg shoppers,” she If you goThe Vicksburg Farmers’ Market will have a midweek produce-only market every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. beginning July 2 and ending Sept. 10. said. “We’ve had people that can’t make it on Saturdays.”

The Freemans, who, before now, had been selling mostly at the Mississippi Farmers Market in Jackson, have noticed local customers who want to buy more than once a week, Judy Freeman said.

“It’s a constant question – ‘Will you be open more days?'” Freeman said. “This gives people an extra opportunity. Everybody benefits. The customer and the farmer make out better with two days.”

Unlike the Wednesday market, Saturdays will continue to offer more than just fresh foods. While fresh fruits and veggies have been the staple for the past two weeks, entertainment and activities have helped draw in large crowds. On July 5, amidst downtown Fourth of July activities, the market will feature Felder Rushing, a statewide gardening personality who co-hosts a gardening radio program on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Lasseter said he will bring his pickup filled with his container gardening and will share his expertise on the technique. He will also talk at scheduled times and be available to answer questions on gardening. The Mississippi Old Time Music Society’s Bridging the Gap will also perform.

“We want to encourage everyone to come get their watermelons in time for the Fourth and come back on Saturday to get more watermelon,” Lasseter said. “There will be plenty of watermelons.”