Farmers market still in season

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 8, 2008

Jane Kees is an avid supporter of the downtown farmers market,saying she plans to be there every time it’s open for a long timeto come.

“This is the greatest thing the (Mississippi State University)Extension Service has ever done here in Brookhaven,” the cityresident said. “I will come here every week for as long as theyhave it.”

But between stormy weather and a natural lull between growingseasons that comes in the fall, the farmers market has slacked offa little in past weeks. Kees said that doesn’t matter to her.

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“After 10 inches of rain last week, I’m surprised they haveanything,” Kees said Friday.

Lincoln County Extension Service Director Rebecca Bates saidsome of the crops would have been affected by the rainy weatherbrought in by Hurricane Gustav and expected from Hurricane Ike, butthat others would be unscathed by the weather.

“Pumpkins and late summer crops, late cucumbers, summer squash,fall tomatoes – those could have some damage,” she said. “But truefall crops like broccoli and greens and turnips shouldn’t beaffected.”

Grower James Richmond, who is also a retired Extension Serviceagent, said he and his family have been growing produce for aboutfour years. Until Brookhaven added a farmers market, they werehaving to go to Jackson to sell their goods.

“When this opportunity came open, we were excited, and it’sworked out good so far,” he said.

Richmond said his eggplants, tomatoes, peppers and other produceare doing fine through the fall break because he’s been doing itlong enough to know how to plan ahead. Other growers who might benew to the farmers market scene might not know how to plant to besure there will be produce. That, he said, is why the number ofvendors at the farmers market has declined in recent weeks.

“I’ve been growing tomatoes for 16 or 17 years,” he said. “Plus,I’m a retired extension agent, and it dawned on me one day that I’mdoing what I tried to teach folks to do for so long.”

Bates said Richmond’s crops, at least, will be on the menu atthe farmers market until the fall crops have begun.

“He had fall tomatoes there on Friday, squash, summer squash,egg plants and a variety of peppers among other things, and thatshould be continued for several weeks until the fall crops areavailable,” Bates said. “We should start picking up more produceafter the next few weeks when the fall crops like greens, as inmustard, turnip and collard greens; broccoli, green onions,pumpkins and those types of things are in season.”

Meanwhile, Richmond said he doesn’t think the waningparticipation has anything to do with people being tired of theopportunity to sell or buy home-grown produce.

“I think it’s been well-accepted by the public, and it’s a greatopportunity for growers,” he said.

Bates said both the growers and the Extension Service have beengrateful for the support the market has received so far from thepublic. She said officials hope buyers will continue to support themarket.

“Keep coming to the market, we need customers to keep thosegrowers motivated,” Bates said. “They’re all preparing for spring,too, so you can be sure that spring will bring us a really fabulousfarmers market.”