Chicory Market blossoms in Oxford, aided by $200k USDA grant

Published 12:36 pm Thursday, September 7, 2023

OXFORD, Miss. — A breath of fresh air is wafting through Oxford, and it’s scented with the aroma of fresh produce, locally-sourced goods and community spirit. Thanks to a generous $200,000 grant from the USDA’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), Chicory Market is relocating this fall to the vibrant Midtown Shopping Center, widening its reach and deepening its impact in the community.

Initially sprouted in 2017 by local entrepreneurs Kate Bishop and John Martin, Chicory Market took root in a storied space that had served as a farmers’ market for more than 30 years. With the HFFI grant aimed at eradicating ‘food deserts,’ this community gem is set to expand its mission to make healthy, local foods accessible to underserved areas of Oxford.

“We’re not merely shifting our physical location; we’re expanding our community footprint,” Bishop expressed. The move is more than just logistical; it’s a statement that speaks volumes about their commitment to local farmers, artisans and families. This relocation is also expected to create construction jobs and offer service contracts, pumping funds back into the local economy.

The Community’s Kitchen

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Forget the idea of a mere grocery store; Chicory Market is a cultural epicenter. Serving as a community forum, the market offers cooking classes, hosts communal dinners and participates in civic events like the Oxford Juneteenth Festival. The recent hiring of Community Outreach Coordinator Britnee Barnes further solidifies the market’s ongoing commitment to active local engagement.

“We envision Chicory as a cross between a farmers’ market, an educational hub and a community center,” Barnes highlighted. This new location will provide opportunities for other local food businesses to join Chicory Market in creating a shared culinary haven.

In an August update posted to Facebook, Chicory Market explained, “Our vendor partners will operate specialized departments, creating a cohesive and delightful grocery shopping experience. This means you can enjoy top-notch local produce, all under one roof.”

The market proudly unveiled its first vendor partner: Johnston Hill Creamery. Led by Kelly Jeffus, the team will manage an exclusive cheese counter while also producing and aging their locally-celebrated cheeses on-site using milk sourced from Southern Cultured Creamery.

Jeffus is enthusiastic about offering Oxford’s first cut-to-order cheese counter, stating, “Customers can sample and select from a range of cheeses, which will be cut, wrapped and presented right in front of them.” This counter will feature both house-made and internationally-sourced artisan cheeses, with an emphasis on local and regional products. Plans for an upgraded aging room within the market are also in progress.

A Cycle of Giving

“This grant benefits not just us, but Oxford as a whole,” said Bishop. To make healthy foods more accessible, Chicory Market extends a 10 percent discount on SNAP and EBT purchases. As a new member of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association (INFRA), the market is positioned to offer competitive pricing on essential groceries.

Starting its journey in a historic farmers’ market building in 2017, Chicory Market has blossomed into a symbol of what community-focused retail can be. Open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the market welcomes one and all. For more information, you can visit the Chicory Market website or their social media platforms.

For anyone yearning for fresh beginnings, visit Chicory Market’s website or speak to customer service.