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Excited about Farmers Market

have high hopes that the organizational meeting held on Thursday for this year’s Downtown Farmers Market was wildly successful.

Nothing is more wonderful than a Mississippi-grown summer tomato, a large “mess” of butterbeans and okra, green onions and a hot pan of cornbread.

Almost equally as good is later in the day crumbling some of that leftover cornbread into a glass of “half and half,” as my Natchez family called it, meaning half sweet milk and half buttermilk. Oh, those were some good days.

Farmers markets are such great things for the entire community. I am looking forward to ours. Talk about farm to table. Nothing is more local than feeding your family produce you know was grown right here at home.

Many young families, particularly those who are consciously trying to teach their children about healthy eating and responsibility, are growing home gardens and raising chickens for the eggs. Why not let those children sell the excess of what they grow to others in their community?

Time spent in the garden with my family when I was young is among my favorite memories.

I remember my brother, Bubba, and I sitting on the ground underneath the towering pecan trees on my aunt Minnie’s property out in Adams County, picking up pecans and filling bag after bag. At the end of the day, our parents took us and the bags of pecans to Natchez Shelling.

We hauled those bulging bags onto the loading dock in the back and I recall a man reaching his hand deep down in the bags and bringing up several pecans. He clipped them in half with some kind of hand-held tool and took a good, long look at them. Then, he told us what he would pay us per pound for the pecans. We earned something like $40 to split between us for the entire day of picking up pecans, but in our minds, we were rich!

From what I understand one will find more than produce at the Downtown Farmers Market this summer. Some fig preserves, maybe? Raw local honey perhaps? And I saw somewhere that someone in Natchez is selling elderberry syrup, which I understand is all the rage for lowering inflammation and boosting immunity, when prepared properly.

Our summer farmers market begins on Saturday, June 1, at 8 a.m. in the 100 block of South Commerce Street and will continue each Saturday until farmers run out of produce and products to sell.

Farmers Market Director Eddie Burkes said on average he expects about 35 vendors each week. And if you happened to have missed Thursday’s organizational meeting, you can still sign up all the way until the first day of the market. Simply call Burkes at 662-816-5458 or email him at eburkes@natchez.ms.us.

Those of us who do not have green thumbs need to do our part in making the market worthwhile for vendors. Let’s show up and buy them out each week.

I’ll see you there June 1.

Jan Griffey is general manager of The Natchez Democrat. You may reach her at 601-445-3566 or jan.griffey@natchezdemocrat.com.

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