City, ASU cut ribbon on market

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 7, 1999

With two vendors on hand, the downtown, open-air farmer’s market had a slow start Thursday, but organizers are optimistic about the future. Representatives from the City of Natchez, Alcorn State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture were on hand to cut the ribbon on the Main Street Marketplace. The project is a partnership among the three institutions and was funded by a rural business enterprise grant.

The Main Street property is owned by St. Mary Basilica, which is leasing it to the city for $1,500 a month.

Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown praised architect Johnny Waycaster & Associates for turning &uot;a sow’s ear to a silk purse&uot; in renovating the old SuperStore building on Main Street.

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&uot;Nobody dreamed that this place would be what it is today,&uot; he said.

Wilbur Peer, associate adminstrator for the USDA’s Rural Business Cooperative Service, said the USDA is encouraging communities across the country to develop local farmer’s markets because they promote healthy eating and camaraderie in the community. &uot;We think this is an excellent facility,&uot; he said.

A 1995 survey found that more than 6,000 farmers sold their products only at farmer’s markets, Peer said.

Alcorn President Dr. Clinton Bristow said the market is just one of the ways the university is making a &uot;claim on Natchez,&uot; noting the location of the nursing and MBA&160;programs on the school’s Natchez campus.

&uot;We’re making a $20 million commitment to Natchez,&uot; he said. &uot;We’re going to try our best to be good partners.&uot;

Buddy Miller, a farmer from Waterproof, La., brought sweet potatoes, pumpkins and pecans to sell at the market opening Thursday.

&uot;From my point of view it’s going to be a tremendous market potential for us,&uot; Miller said. &uot;From Nathcez’s point of view, it will do more to bring people downtown than anything else. And from the consumer’s point of view – especially if they’re concerned about eating healthy – it’s a chance to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.&uot;