The Oxford Community Market, now open for the year since April 18 at the Old Armory Pavilion, has positively impacted the Oxford community by bringing people from all over to buy fresh produce from a variety of vendors.
With spring in full force and weather cooperating, many farmers bring fresh produce to sell at the Oxford Community Market every Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“I have been selling produce for most of my life,” said Batesville resident Paul Franklin, “and I have been coming to the market here in Oxford for three years now.”
When people visit the community market to purchase fresh produce, they can choose from fresh vegetables, fruit, bread, and many other items. With the market running until December, vendors always have something new to offer each week.
“Spring and summer are my busiest seasons,” Franklin said, “but I am also busy in the fall selling sorghum molasses that I make.”
The market “adds to the cultural landscape of the community,” said Will Reed, a farmer from Tupelo.
Many farmers who sell their produce at the market travel from different counties in the state.
“Most of our produce in Tupelo goes through our CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture,” said Reed, “so we have families that sign up in advance of the season each year, and they get a box of produce every week throughout the season.
“A lot of things we associate as positives about a place come from food, and this is food that doesn’t exist anywhere else.”
One thing that sets the market apart from some other stores is fresh produce. “What we are offering is picked this morning,” Reed said.
At the Oxford Community Market on May 9, if you biked, carpooled, or took the bus there, you received a free glass of freshly squeezed lemonade. Organizers post weekly Facebook page special incentives for visitors.
Customers who attend the markets know they can trust the fresh produce. Daniella Howard, a customer who attends the local market, said she believes, “The produce is way more fresh, and the flavors are so much better than the items you would buy at a grocery store.”
It also helps farmers make a living. “It gives an option for those farmers to sell locally so they make more profits than they do when they sell through the middle man,” Howard said.
The farming business isn’t always as easy as it looks. Many of the vendors who sell produce at markets face daily challenges. “One of the main challenges that I have is getting enough help to keep up with the produce,” said Franklin.
Weather is another factor. In many parts of the country, too much rain has been an issue for farming.
“We have been fortunate enough to have decent weather this season so far, but anything else that could go wrong has, and we have worked through it,” said Reed.
As many grocery stores are competing against each other, market vendors view their sales differently. “We are all complimenting each other here at the market because we all have different things we can offer,” said Reed.
Much of the hard work and dedication that is put into growing produce can be very stressful. Farmers aren’t guaranteed that they will sell all of their goods, so it is crucial to get the communities involved in the weekly markets. “Anytime you can put money back in the hands of the community it is the best way to do it,” said Howard.
Franklin said, “as long as you have good produce, people will come back for more.”
Along with fresh produce, the community market also offers live music weekly. To keep people updated on what’s happening at the next Oxford Community Market, organizers post on Facebook daily.