USDA grant helps Chicory Market expand

Published 6:15 am Wednesday, September 13, 2023

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 over 30 years.

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“We’re not merely shifting our physical location; we’re expanding our community footprint,” Bishop said. The move is more than just logistical; it’s a statement that speaks volumes about their commitment to local farmers, artisans and families.

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 said. “This new location will provide opportunities for other local food businesses to join Chicory Market in creating a shared culinary haven.”

The market laser month 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.

“Customers can sample and select from a range of cheeses, which will be cut, wrapped and presented right in front of them,” he said. The counter will feature both house-made and internationally-sourced artisan cheeses, with an emphasis on local and regional products. 

“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. 

Chicory Market is 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.