From press and staff reports
Local farmers and the Choctaw County MSU Extension Office gathered at the first Farmers’ Market of the season to reap benefits of many long and hard days work.
The Farmers’ Market will be held every Friday in July beginning at 8 a.m. at the corner of Main and Commerce Streets in Ackerman.
Free recipes and other items will be given out.
There is no vendor fee.
For more information or vendor application, contact the Choctaw County Extension Office in the Courthouse Annex or call 662-285-6337.
The new Choctaw County Frmer’s market adds to a growing trend across Mississippi and the South with community and farmer’s market’s in almost every community.
The growth of Farmer’s Markets can be tied to the fact it is a win – win situation for the customer and farmer according to the MSU Extension office.
Farmer’s Market’s importance
David Nagel, Extension plant and soil sciences specialist at Mississippi State University, said farmers’ markets give everyone an advantage, often one that consumers may have a hard time finding elsewhere.
Nagel said consumers can enjoy fresh, high-quality products and direct contact with growers. Producers have a place to sell their vegetables for a profit, but can often beat supermarket prices.
“A benefit for growers is they sell at retail rather than wholesale prices at farmers’ markets,” Nagel said.
Consumers can buy much fresher foods for a comparable price. Demand is usually high.
“The farmers’ markets are about as close as people can get to growing it themselves,” Nagel said.
“At the supermarket, a vegetable for sale is probably picked six days before. At a farmers’ market, it is either picked the day before or that morning,” he said.
The quality of a garden product goes down the longer it is removed from its plant. Fruits and vegetables sold at supermarkets are sometimes chemically treated to last longer.
“Tomatoes are often picked green and treated with ethylene to induce ripening. Ethylene is a naturally occurring compound in tomatoes, but when the plant makes its own, the tomato has more sugar and flavor compounds,” Nagel said. The farmers’ market gives consumers the advantage of buying foods with a more “home- grown” taste.
Consumer demand for these locally grown vegetables is high. Nagel said farmers’ markets face a much more serious problem with supply than they do with demand. Producers can make money, consumers can get a better product, and a farmers’ market fosters a sense of community. It is also beneficial to the local economy.
“We’re talking to people who either are already farming or are looking for a way to use their land,” Nagel said. “Many farmers would like an alternative to row cropping to make money. We are trying to get growers together to develop organization, designate a central sales location, and set dates and standards.”
“Farmers’ markets are an example of one area of retail where customers are not a problem,” Nagel said.
In Mississippi, most farmers’ markets are seasonal and occur two or three times per week during the growing season. Nagel said farmers’ markets can include a wide range of growers, from someone with a few tomato plants who wants to earn a little extra money to someone who wants to make a living from farming. Farmers’ markets are ideal for those who can’t produce enough to meet the large demands of supermarkets. Nagel said most grocery companies want to buy at least 40,000 pounds at one time.