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City farmers’ market to open April 19

Oxford City Market director Betsy Chapman is geared up and ready for the opening of the farmers’ market at the new pavilion.

The market will begin its season a week from today on April 19, opening each Tuesday from 3 to 6:30 p.m. through the fall.

The market had been operating on West Oxford Loop on land owned by John Trezavant, who allowed the market to use the land at no cost until it was developed. When the city transformed the old National Guard Armory on the corner of Bramlett Boulevard and University Avenue into a community pavilion, the decision was made to move the market. The market was held at the pavilion for the last two weeks of the 2015 season.

“We were very excited to end last year at our new location and are looking forward to our first full year at the pavilion,” Chapman said recently. “We are grateful to be at this new community space where we can offer a more visible and viable market for our vendors. Customers appreciate the convenient location, restrooms and green space for their children to safely play while they shop.”

The market couldn’t have become as successful as it has without its customers, but Chapman gave much of the credit to the vendors themselves.

“Our vendors are some of the finest, most generous, hardworking people I’ve ever met,” she said. “They are enriching the community by building a vibrant local food system and this new location will help us build a market that better serves them. The vendors have become like family to me. They’ve been very supportive during my first year as market director.”

Through the market’s partnership with United Way of Oxford and Lafayette County, the market will be adding mini-cooking classes through its Family Table Series, Kids in the Kitchen activities and butchering and break-making demonstrations. Local chefs and home cooks will also be doing demonstrations to get people excited about getting in the kitchen and using fresh, locally-grown foods.

Next month, on May 17, the market will continue to partner with the AARP Foundation’s Fre$h Savings Program, where the market offers a dollar-for-dollar match up to $10 to customers who use their SNAP cards — formally known as food stamps — at the market.

“We’ll continue with great weekly kids activities sponsored by Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network and live entertainment sponsored by Luke Fisher Music,” Chapman said.

Chapman said farmers’ markets are smart investments for communities that draw new residents to the area.

“Young professionals, families and retirees are looking to put down roots in communities that value and invest in farmers markets,” she said. “Our goal is to be more than just a place for Oxonians to shop for local produce. OXCM wants to be the most diverse community gathering place in town, where people from all walks of life come together to enjoy all of the incredible things this town has to offer.”

The market is funded by vendor fees and other market revenue, United Way, donations and business sponsors.

Mid-Town Market

On May 7, the Mid-Town Farmers’ Market will open for the season and run from 7 to 11 a.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays in the parking lot of the Mid-Town Shopping Center on North Lamar.

The first Saturday of each month is often a children’s day, with face painting and other fun activities, usually beginning around 8 a.m. with live music each week.

Mid-Town’s market is run by a volunteer board of directors made up of local farmers and local residents.