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Mississippi Farmers Market Profile

Photo Courtesy Hattiesburg Farmers Market

Agriculture is the number one industry in Mississippi, and the state was primarily a farming one going back to the 19th century. It’s not surprising that you can find a wealth of farmers markets flourishing all across the Magnolia State nowadays. Here are four great spots to visit when down South. 

Mississippi Farmers Market

With a name like “Mississippi Farmers Market (MFM),” you might think it is the only farmers market in the state. That is far from the truth! Although the MFM is in the state’s capital city of Jackson, the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce says MFM strives to represent the “interest of the farmer, consumer, general public, and the state of Mississippi.” 

Located at 929 High St. in downtown Jackson, the market’s 18,000-square-foot facility ranks as the largest in the state. The building contains 32 stalls and roll-up doors, and during prime produce season, it boasts 40–50 vendors.

Photo Courtesy Mississippi Farmers Market

Besides hosting growers from small and large farms, MFM also hosts local artists and craftspeople, so customers buy directly from the people behind the items, whether they are pole beans or purses, cantaloupes, or ceramics. 

The operation, which takes place on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., also presents cooking demonstrations from culinary schools and area restaurants, live entertainment, special events, and activities for kids and seniors.

It has proven so successful that the Genuine MS Store was launched in the same building a few years back. Open Tuesdays–Fridays, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and during the market’s Saturday hours, the store holds more than 200 products from all across the Magnolia State.

Pontotoc Farmers Market 

While it’s notable that MFM’s origins go back to the late 1940s, it’s even more impressive that the Pontotoc Farmers Market (PFM) can trace its roots back to the 1800s, when local farmers and ranchers sold their items in the city’s historic Court Square. The modern-day market came to life in 2013 but has really blossomed in the past few years, growing from just around a handful of vendors to more than 80 registered vendors.

Photo Courtesy Pontotoc Farmers Market 

It runs every Saturday from May to October (7 a.m. to 11 a.m.), and there’s a Wednesday summer session in June–August (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.). According to  Julia McDowell, market manager, around 60% of the vendors are producing growers or agriculture producers, with the rest divided between artisans, bakers, and other food makers. 

Based in the largest Mississippi city west of Tupelo, the PFM website says it is “dedicated to the creation of a vibrant, sustainable market in the heart of Mississippi’s Hill Country.” Beyond simply being a marketplace, it also serves up wellness-minded community activities, like yoga lessons and food demonstrations conducted by students from the University of Mississippi Department of Nutrition. 

PFM also has a Youth Farmers Market during the summer where youngsters under 18 will be vendors.

Recently launched, it is a Mississippi Certified Farmers Market, operating its a community garden where harvested produce is distributed to Pontotoc’s food pantry. Speaking of growing, this operation has grown enough that it’s eyeing a new, larger location in the near future. 

Photo Courtesy Pontotoc Farmers Market 

Downtown Hattiesburg Farmers Market

The Farmers Market in Hattiesburg first opened in 2004 as the Hub City Market. Then, it became known as Pine Belt Farmers & Artisans Market before assuming its current name: the Downtown Hattiesburg Farmers Market. No matter what the name, its website says it aims “to improve the quality of life and health of communities across the Pine Belt by promoting positive social engagement focused on fresh food.” 

Hattiesburg is the largest city in the Pine Belt, an area of southeastern Mississippi famous for its large, lovely pine trees.

On Thursday afternoons, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., it rules Town Square Park on the corner of Main Street and Buschman Street in downtown Hattiesburg. 

The operation stocks a seasonal selection of fresh, local fruits and vegetables, dairy options, and prepared foods while offering live music and activities. Besides welcoming the opportunity to bring the public and farmers together, the market also takes pride in the environmental benefits it promotes by reducing food processing, packaging, and fossil fuel emissions.

Photo Courtesy Hattiesburg Farmers Market 

Ocean Springs Fresh Market

The Ocean Springs Fresh Market also opened in 2004, although it went on hiatus for a while after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Ocean Springs is not your typical farmers market because it isn’t run by a city or an organization. It was created and is still managed by Diane Claughton, an expat from the north of England who basically operates the market from her money and vendor’s fees.  

One of the handful-and-a-half Certified Farmers Markets in Mississippi, the Ocean Springs Fresh Market has made a name for itself by being inspired by European operations.

It focuses on fresh, regionally raised produce and food and Earth-born items, like rugs made by an area hemp farmer or birdhouses constructed by a local man from reclaimed wood. The 30 vendors create a community every Saturday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) in the parking lot of Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce (1000 Washington Ave.). 

Photo Courtesy Salty Dawg/Ocean Springs Fresh Market

Claughton is proud that the vendors span generations — from octogenarians to 20-somethings — and a second generation of vendors is at the market. She also told Garden & Health that she has seen a real rise in interest in the farmer markets of late, which she attributes to people — especially those in their 20s and 30s — being interested in having a connection to the food they buy. Farmers markets allow them to meet the growers of the food they purchase. 

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