Marketplace ready next month

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 3, 1999

A downtown, open-air farmer’s market is on schedule for an Oct. 1 opening.

The Main Street Marketplace will be open seven days a week and will offer produce and goods from local farmers and craftsmen.

The market is a partnership of the City of Natchez, Alcorn State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Alcorn will staff the market, and students will be involved in helping to counsel farmers who use the facility.

Clifton Peters, Alcorn’s USDA&160;liaison, said the project will give students experience in agriculture production and marketing.

&uot;We hope to use this as an opportunity to marry the university’s extension and outreach service with farmers who need it,&uot; Peters said.

The farmer’s market will also participate in the WIC/Farmer’s Market Nutrition program, which gives vouchers to those who participate in the Women, Infant and Child program to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market.

From the city’s standpoint, the market will be a service to both residents and tourists, said Natchez Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown.

ASU invested about $185,000 in USDA grants in the project, while the city is investing about $80,000 in work to the sidewalks and landscaping on the property.

Peters said once construction is complete, Alcorn and city officials will be able to map out the interior to determine how many vendors can fit into the space, and in what configuration.

The farmer’s market is located in the old SuperStore building. St. Mary Catholic Church still owns the property and is leasing it to the city for $1,500 a month.

Construction had been two weeks behind because of change orders on the project, said City Planner David Preziosi.

But the market is still on schedule for the October opening.

Site work left includes electrical and plumbing, he said.

Preziosi said he was surprised at how well the project has progressed. Earlier this year the city had to scale back its plans because the first design was too expensive.

&uot;We’re very pleased,&uot; he said. &uot;It turned out better than we thought it would.&uot;