Farmers Market accepts vouchers from seniors

Published 12:24 am Monday, July 27, 2009

Editor’s note: The below story incorrectly identified the farmer’s market’s partner in the senior nutrition program, the Southwest Mississippi Planning and Development District. We regret the error and are happy to set the record straight.

NATCHEZ — Senior citizens now have a place where they can take a voucher and get guaranteed fresh, locally grown vegetables.

The Natchez Farmer’s Market was recently certified by the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce through its Mississippi Farmers Market Program, and that certification — among other things — means the market can participate in the Senior Nutrition program, market director Helen Brooks said.

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“I had heard about (the senior nutrition program) in other counties, and I thought it would be good for Adams County,” Brooks said.

The market has partnered with the Southwest Mississippi Planning and Development District, which distributes $28 vouchers that can only be redeemed at a certified farmers market to senior citizens.

The vouchers are distributed through local senior centers and churches, Brooks said.

Since the certification, the senior citizens voucher program has already started to grow in popularity, she said.

It was so popular that the planning district ran out of vouchers last week, SMPDD Aging Division Director Yolanda Campbell said.

Unfortunately, the district will not be receiving more vouchers for the Natchez market for another year, Campbell said.

To become a certified farmer’s market, the market management has to demonstrate that it hosts at least two local producers.

Brooks said the Natchez market has on average 10 producers, but at times as many as 27- 30.

“It’s also a producer’s only market,” she said. “You can’t bring in anything that you’ve bought somewhere else and sell it here.”

Likewise, the farmers who sell in the market have to be certified farmers, which means Brooks has to check their operation several times throughout the growing season to ensure they’re growing what they said they would initially, she said.

“When we do that, we’re approved (through the certification) to offer the highest quality in produce for our customers,” Brooks said.

The Natchez Farmer’s Market is located on Main Street in the former Main Street Marketplace building.

It is open Thursday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.