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Plan under way to create farmers market

Gina Covington was one of a group of produce growers fromLincoln County who was tired of driving sometimes an hour or moreto the nearest farmers market, so she and other community membersdecided to do something about it.

“We were all going to Magnolia or McComb or Jackson to thefarmers’ markets there, and gas is so high now,” Covington said.”Everybody here wants a farmers market, and we’re all tired ofgoing all over the place to get to one.”

So with the help of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber ofCommerce and the Mississippi State University Extension Service,Covington’s project is becoming a reality.

Extension Service Director Rebecca Bates echoed Covington’sconcerns, saying it’s time to establish something locally not justfor the growers, but for the consumers as well.

“Our producers have been driving to McComb and Jackson, and ourconsumers have been making that drive too,” she said. “Now we canhave it all here.”

“Bates and Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President CliffBrumfield said talks are under way to establish a farmers market inRailroad Park on Friday mornings before the end of July.

“We are looking for local growers that would fit within theintended theme of quality locally grown produce, fresh-cut flowers,quality foods and natural decorative items that are indigenous tothe area,” Brumfield said.

Organizers said they want Brookhaven’s to follow along the lines ofa traditional farmers market, and they’d like to stay away from aflea market-type environment.

“This is not going to be a place to sell whatnots or antiques,”said Brumfield. “We have numerous businesses that offer antiquesand similar items in the area. This is for produce and relateditems.”

The market will not be an attempt to compete with local groceriesor other venues, Brumfield said, but rather to provide a forum forthe large population of Lincoln County residents who grow and buyhomegrown produce.

“We don’t intend to compete with local grocers but rather to be afun, family activity to benefit local growers,” he said.

Brumfield and Bates said there is a possibility that if the markettakes off like organizers expect it to, local talent might bebrought in for the noon hour to provide musical entertainment formarket attendees. That would also open the park up for people tobring in picnic lunches and just enjoy the marketplaceenvironment.

While plans are in the works to have the markets through the fallonce they are started, organizers are on the hunt for local growerswho would be interested in participating.

“A meeting is set for June 24 at 2:30 p.m. at the extension serviceoffice for organizers to put together a mailing list, and then aconference will be held July 9 at the State Room to includeinterested local growers. Bates said those interested in beingadded to the mailing list should call the extension service