Fruit, veggie sales growing

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 20, 2010

NATCHEZ — Those in search of fresh produce and dairy need to look no further than the Natchez Farmer’s Market, and with store hours recently extended, the hunt for the perfect fresh veggies just got a little easier.

Effective on Sept. 14, the Natchez Farmer’s Market at 199 St. Catherine St. in Natchez changed their hours to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Marketing specialist Helen Brooks said the change was to help benefit the working class citizens of the area.

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“It is hard for them to get produce on their lunch breaks,” Brooks said. “Even if they do get them, some of the products need to be refrigerated and many people cannot go home to put their produce up.”

Brooks said changing the closing time to 6 p.m. would allow people to come by after work to get their vegetables.

Extension Administrator, Dalton McAfee said the farmer’s market has grown and so has the demand for the produce.

“We are really moving out and expanding,” McAfee said. “Many people were requesting for more hours and more vegetables at the market.”

The produce selection available at the market is full of variety, Brooks said.

“We have seasonal produce,” she said. “We are about to wrap up cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes are starting to come in. We have transitioned from spring and summer to fall.”

Purple hull peas, okra, watermelon and fall tomatoes are all other items Brooks said the market will be selling.

“Fresh whole milk will also be introduced,” she said. “We have a small, local dairy farm that will be selling items, and everything they produce is pretty much churned by hand.”

Aside from produce and dairy items, Brooks said they also sell other items such as breads, cakes and pies.

“If it is handmade, homemade or locally grown, we have it,” she said.

Brooks said one benefit of purchasing food from the farmer’s market is the health value the food contains for the community.

“(Mississippi) is leading the nation in obesity,” she said. “The fresh vegetables are healthy for you. It is our way of helping fight the obesity problem.”

McAfee said another benefit for the use of the farmer’s market is the money it brings in to local farmers.

“The products are locally grown,” he said. “It provides income for the producers and gives them an outlet to sell their products.”

McAfee also said the locally grown crops provide consumers with fresher produce.

“The produce comes straight from the farm,” he said. “It is not commercially grown and a lot of the vegetables and fruits have no additives and are pesticide-free.”