Farmers’ market seeks home

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 3, 2010

NATCHEZ — Saturday marked the first day of the farmers’ market season, and Alcorn State University’s Extension Program has yet to find a new home for its Natchez market.

ASU Extension Director Dr. Dalton McAfee and ASU Marketing Coordinator Helen D. Brooks recently addressed the Natchez Board of Aldermen and picked their brains about possible locations for the market.

The market was previously located at the former Main Street Marketplace Cafe downtown, but the site was purchased by St. Mary Basilica for its new family life center.

In addition to selling fresh produce, the market allowed local artists and other vendors to sell their wares.

“It is a real investment for the city to have such a market,” McAfee said. “Our local farmers were selling out of their produce before noon, so the demand is high.

“We’re willing to invest money into the market, and we’re willing to buy a facility.”

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis suggested ASU consider locations such as Magnolia Mall, but McAfee preferred to keep the market downtown.

Alderman Mark Fortenbery suggested ASU look at the old Sears building in Tracetown.

“That’s something you might find for the short-term he said.”

Arceneaux-Mathis, who plans to ride through the city and offer more suggestions, said ASU should also ask the Adams County Board of Supervisors for assistance.

Brooks said ASU wants to relocate the market as soon as possible and cited senior citizens’ dependency on the market’s senior nutrition program.

Approximately 500 seniors benefited from the program last year, according to Brooks’ figures.

Last year, the market was certified by the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce through its Mississippi Farmers Market Program.