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Oxford Community Market to host First Market Feast

Oxford Community Market is kicking off its 2018 season on Tuesday April 17, with a day of free festivities and its inaugural First Market Feast.

First Market Feast will feature the culinary stylings of local chefs who routinely serve the market’s produce in their restaurants. Vishwesh Bhatt of Snackbar, Corbin Evans of Oxford Canteen, Joel Miller of Ravine, Nick Reppond and Heath Johnson of GRIT and John Stokes of Tarasque Cucina will all be working together to bring farm-to-table dishes to guests at this fundraising event. All proceeds from the event will benefit Oxford Community Market and its initiatives to bring healthy food to all residents in the LOU community.

Betsy Chapman, director of OXCM, said the feast will be a great way to show others how to use local produce in new and unexpected ways.

“The whole point of shopping from a farmers market is that you make good use of what’s available seasonally in your area,” Chapman said. “We have an abundance of just about everything that will grow in our climate. It’s a good way to become familiar with what actually grows in your area and interact with those who are growing it.”

OXCM is the only farmers market in the area that accepts SNAP benefits, and provides a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $10, through community partnerships with Move On Up Mississippi, United Way and Baptist Memorial Hospital.

All proceeds from the feast will go directly to the market and be used to provide members of the LOU community with more options when it comes to eating local.

“A lot of people don’t know, but we are a 501(c)3 organization. What this benefit will support is all of the programs the market has in place to help bring fresh, healthy local food to everyone,” Chapman said. “We’re the only farmers market in Lafayette County that participates in the WIC farmers market nutrition program, which provides those with WIC benefits with vouchers so they can come and get fresh vegetables and fruits for their families.”

OXCM has had the highest WIC voucher redemption rate in the state for the past two years, something Chapman said shows the market’s success in its community outreach programs.

While the feast’s final menu is top secret, Chapman revealed some of the in-season ingredients, including strawberries, leafy greens, herbs, radishes, green onions, sunflower shoots, turnips and more. The chefs will also be serving dishes made with local honey, farm-fresh eggs, meats and baked goods from OXCM vendors.

“Ever since I was a little boy, farmers markets have played a huge role in discovering more about food and community,” Corbin Evans, of Oxford Canteen, said in a recent press release. “My cooking style has always relied on the bounty of harvests at these markets and the camaraderie of shoppers, chefs and vendors has continued to inspire me to cook locally, seasonally and with pride for what our community produces.”

The first market of the season will be from 3 to 6:30 p.m. at the Old Armory Pavilion at 1801 University Avenue, and the feast festivities will begin immediately after, with a pre-dinner reception featuring a Cathead Vodka seasonal cocktail and appetizers.

Tickets to the First Market Feast are available at https://oxfordarts.com/shop/category/29-events. Tickets for the dinner alone are $75 per person and include a wine option. VIP tickets are $100 per person, and include a dinner ticket, access to the VIP bar and live music at the pre-dinner reception, performed by Tate Moore and Dave Woolworth of the Kudzu Kings.