Crowds sparse at final Farmers’ Market
Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 29, 2010
Visitors to Saturday’s final Farmers’ Market of the season were sparse, but it was hard to tell at Heather Burns’ baked goods stall.
A steady stream of customers kept Burns busy all morning, lining up for her specialty breads and delicacies like Rorschach shortbread, with its “intense” chocolate flavors, and Hepburns, named after the actress Katharine, which feature toasted hazelnuts.
“They go great with Scotch — or coffee,” Burns told a group, smiling.
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She was one of five vendors plus a crew of Master Gardeners from the Warren County Extension Service who closed out the market’s third season, held this year in the parking lot next to LD’s Kitchen across Levee Street from the Riverfront Murals.
Kevin Kennedy of Kennedy and Sons Produce of Oak Grove, La., still had plenty of tomatoes, okra and squash for sale, and Kenly and Kenny Ellerbee of Bovina’s K-n-K Farms were similarly stocked with tomatoes, onions, eggplant and other produce. Both vendors were kept busy on a day when temperatures were mild and cloud cover shielded the sun.
Bobbie Smith of Forgotten Art still had jams and jellies for sale but said she’d run out of pickles. Her booth also featured a rack of hand-made tag blankets “for babies that like to play with labels,” she said.
Vicksburg resident James Cooley made his weekly stop at the booth of Kate and Walter Montgomery, picking up a supply of pralines, green tomato relish and a big jar of peach jam. “The only thing they don’t sell is the hot biscuits to go with it,” he quipped.
Cooley loves the Farmers’ Market for its “entrepreneurial spirit,” he said, and attends nearly every week. “It’s people doing something for themselves, taking the opportunity to do what this country is all about. I like that and I like to support it.”
Farmers’ Market co-coordinator Kristen Meehan said the 2010 season, which opened June 5 and ran Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons, has been the hottest of the three. It came with other challenges as well, she said.
Previously held a block north in the parking lot across from the Levee Street depot, the event was relocated to the smaller lot this year due to construction and renovations at the depot.
“The season has been a definite learning process, with having to move the market, but the community has definitely come out to support us,” said Meehan.
Vendors said the new location was probably to blame for the slight drop-off in business, but some who had booths earlier in the season ran out of produce because of the August heat.
Not the Ellerbees, however.
“Our yield this year was excellent,” Kenny Ellerbee said. “The problem with the heat is that everything gets ready at the same time, so we have to stagger things a bit.”
Master Gardener Dana Klimas had selected drought-resistant plants to feature this week, and had three or four bouquets of samples including beauty berry, lantana and zebra grass.
“Education is our main goal,” said Klimas, who chairs the market committee for the group. “We thought this was just a perfect venue.”
Meehan said the last day is always a little somber for vendors and customers alike, and while organizers hope to go back to the depot lot next year, the fourth season will be held regardless.
“This is to get me through the winter,” said Alice Hebler as she picked out a supply of jams, fig preserves, pickles and pralines from the Montgomerys. “I’m going to miss it. The market has really been a wonderful asset to Vicksburg.”