Vicksburg Farmers’ Market wins USDA grant for nearly $48,000

Published 11:49 am Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Vicksburg Farmers’ Market is getting a $47,823 boost from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Vicksburg Main Street Board of Directors learned Tuesday.

Kristen Mehan, co-coordinator for the Farmers’ Market, told the board Tuesday that the city is getting a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program Grant to help the annual market, which is a project of Main Street.

According to information from the USDA’s website, Vicksburg is one of four Mississippi cities receiving a program grant, which is designed to help communities better promote farmers’ markets as a means of providing better access to healthy foods, especially in low-income areas.

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The USDA announced the grants Thursday. Grants coordinator Marcia Weaver said the city applied in June.

Weaver added that the city has not received the grant agreement from the USDA. The city must approve the grant agreement before any of the federal funds are released.

“This is a two-year program,” she said. “It will allow us to have a paid manager and assistant manager, buy equipment like tents and tables and help pay operational expenses.”

Weaver did not know if the managers would be full or part time.

Having paid managers oversee farmers market operations is a new addition for the program, which had been managed by volunteers since it began in 2008.

Mehan said Tuesday morning that she and Main Street executive director Kim Hopkins would meet today with officials at Alcorn State University in Lorman to discuss establishing a farmers market manager internship.

The Farmers’ Market has been held each summer since 2008 and features locally grown produce and homemade items for sale.

Main Street chairman Ronnie Bounds said the 2012 market will be located on a city-owned lot on the east side of Washington Street between Jackson and Grove streets, across from the old Levee Street Depot.

In other action, the board:

• Approved amendments to Main Street’s bylaws expanding the size of the board from nine to 11 members, and allowing the chairman to appoint two ex-officio, non-voting members.

Bounds said the amendments were designed to get more people involved with Main Street.

• Announced the nominees for the 2012 board of directors: present members Ronnie Bounds, Alice Hebler and Lauchlin Fields; and Ginny Tzotzolas, Mickey Fedell, Daryl Hollingsworth, Linda Fondren and Branan Southerland.

Business owners in the Main Street taxing district will elect five members to the board. The elected board members will be announced at the board’s November meeting and be sworn-in in January.

• Learned that Main Street raised $4,495 from concession stand sales in August during baseball tournaments at Halls Ferry Park, and made $2,578 from Bricks and Spokes.

• Approved a request from Hopkins to attend a Mississippi Main Street training program in Meridian in November.

• Learned the Lofts of Vicksburg Tour is Nov. 12.

• Learned Downtown Vicksburg’s Old-Fashioned Christmas Open House is Nov. 27 from 1:30 to 5 p.m.

• Learned the Christmas Parade of Lights is Dec. 3 at 5 p.m. The theme is Disney Christmas.