Local Food

Published on April 17th, 2019 | by TLV News


Oxford Community Market Kicks Off the 2019 Season on April 23

If there’s one thing that Oxford Community Market is known for, it’s good-old fashioned Southern hospitality and the ability to turn a regular old Tuesday afternoon into a community-wide celebration of local food, art, culture, and commerce.

Every Tuesday from April through December, OXCM transforms the empty Old Armory Pavilion into a beautiful, public marketplace filled with music, fresh local goods, farmers, artisans, kids playing, and customers from all walks of life. OXCM opens for business on April 23 with its annual Spring Kick-Off Party from 3–6:30 pm at the corner of Bramlett Boulevard and University Ave.

“OXCM’s Spring Kick-Off event is a big community block partyandeveryoneis invited,” said market director Betsy Chapman. “The kick-off sets the tone for the market season and is all about bringing people together, building community, stimulating the creative economy, and bringing public gathering spaces to life.”

The event offers free kid’s activities, cooking demos, refreshments, and live music plus loads of fresh local spring produce, baked goods, meats, milk, honey, jams and jellies, pickles, and more!

“Your local farmers market is where you’re going to find the largest, just-picked selection of fresh produce,” said Chapman. “Plus, you’re buying directly from your farmer so every penny they make goes right back into local farms and it’s a pretty good feeling to be friends with the people who feed you.”

The kick-off event is free and open to the public but also offers the opportunity for the community to support the non-profit.

“Our goal as an organization is to support local growers by providing a place for them to sell to the public for a nominal fee as well as providing marketing services, technical support, and small business resources that are not accessible to most small growers and food producers,” said Chapman. “We are hopeful that the investment OXCM makes in our farmers benefits them beyond just our market, helping them expand to other markets, restaurants, grocery stores, and farm stands across north Mississippi. And we can continue to do all of this work with the generous support of this town.”

In addition to supporting farmers, OXCM is also known statewide for its efforts to improve access to fresh, local food to those who are most vulnerable to food insecurity with special programs to support SNAP/WIC shoppers and senior citizens.

“We believe that everyone deserves access to the highest quality food and that local food economies thrive when everyone is able to participate,” Chapman noted. “Our work to help families who experience food insecurity is supported by the United Way of Oxford and Lafayette County, Baptist Hospital, and Move On Up Mississippi.

The community can support OXCM’s work with a small donation to attend the 2019 Friends of the Market Happy Hour to be held from 5–6:30 pm during the kick-off event. Donations can be made at www.givegab.com/campaigns/market-happy-hour or at OXCM’s website www.oxfordcommunitymarket.com. For more information about OXCM, contact Chapman at 662-816-7413.

Betsy Chapman, director of Oxford Community Market, avid gardener, and loyal listener of The Gestalt Gardner wanted to get the dirt on Mississippi gardening with a few questions for Felder Rushing, Mississippi’s garden guru. Felder will be at Oxford Community Market’s 2019 Spring Kick-Off Party April 23 at the Old Armory Pavilion for a meet-and-greet before he heads over to the Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library for his talk “Gardening with Felder: Grow Anything IN Anything.” This free talk is sponsored by UM Office of Sustainability, The Oxford Community Garden Association, andSustainable Oxford. “Felder is super knowledgeable and delivers useful information in an easy-to-understand and entertaining way. The Oxford Community Garden is pleased to partner with these great organizations to bring him here, and we are excited to pick upsome tips on growing a better garden,” said Tiffany Bensen of the Oxford Community Garden.

I called in once, several years back, and you instructed me on how to manually pollinate my squash plants that weren’t producing and it worked! You’ve been doing this for a while now and you must have had at least a few wacky call-ins over the years. What is the weirdest, funniest, and/or most memorable call-in question of your career?
I’ve had calls about how to know when to stop mowing the lawn in the fall and about termites in marijuana plants. But the best was when I got totally owned by my own mom, who called me out and hung up on me on-air, live, for being too horticultural and cynical about a project a man had called in about something he wanted to do with his grandson. “Young man,” she said, “you misread the last call. That man didn’t want your negative advice; it’s a beautiful day and he just wanted to do something outdoors with his grandson. And you completely blew it.” CLICK!

I dream of my yard looking like the big, beautiful lawns that line the boulevards in Oxford. Every spring, for years, I’m out there digging from dusk till dawn and mine still looks a hot mess. What is the best advice you have to encourage gardeners to never give up on having the yard of their dreams?
In spite of my being a turf expert, I think most people have unrealistic, body-shamed expectations about the need for a standardized “Miss America” lawn. They are not easy to pull off without occasional deep soakings—never more than once a week, but at least once a month— and light fertilizers every April. If there is one simple trick, it is to raise the mower to its highest setting, and leave it there. This is what the lawn needs for deep roots and thick growth, and is the best weed prevention of all. Just mow right, edge every now and then, and learn to tolerate a few blemishes—or prepare for ceaseless toil. It’s okay to not have a perfect lawn. Really.

For beginning gardeners: What are your top three favorite easy-to-grow plants?
No two gardeners will ever agree on their favorites, which often change every few years anyway. But I would encourage newbies to start with a simple group of rosemary or oregano, an all-season Compacta nandina, and a skirt of variegated Liriope or iris. It’s an all-season combination in beds or pots, and anything can be added later (I’m thinking paperwhite Narcissus, Powis Castle artemisia, and sky’s the limit).

If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could only bring one gardening book, what would it be?
I love the easy reading and practical tips of Deep-Rooted Wisdom – Skills and Stories from Generations of Gardeners(Timber Press) by Jenks Farmer, a fantastic story-telling horticulturist from South Carolina.

You’ve met gardeners and visited gardeners all over the world. What is special and unique about gardening in the South? What do Mississippi gardeners have in common with gardeners from around the world?
Mississippians can enjoy all sorts of flowers, shrubs, trees, vegetables, and culinary herbs every single week of the year, and the very best gardeners do, often with plants gleaned from many sources including pass-along heirlooms from family, friends, and neighbors. We are a sharing lot who love to laugh and tell stories. We are less stressed than other cultures in our gardens, except perhaps English gardeners who also have a strong sense of place and tend to grow practical and dependable rather than showy flash-in-the-pan plants. But whether I am gardening half the year here or in my home in northern England, or visiting other gardens around the world, I find that,other than using somewhat different plants, we pretty much all do the same things with the same hopes and frustrations. Unlike goal-oriented horticulture, gardening is more a process to enjoy.

Oxford Community Market and Oxford Film Festival Team Up to Present New Food Film Festival
Bakery Pop-Up Scheduled for Saturday, April 13

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About the Author

The Local Voice is a bimonthly entertainment guide and newspaper based in Oxford, Mississippi, covering and distributed in North Central Mississippi, including Oxford, Ole Miss, Taylor, Abbeville, Water Valley, Lafayette County, Yalobusha County, and parts of Panola County, Marshall County, and Tupelo . The Local Voice is distributed free to over 255 locations in North Mississippi and also available as a full color PDF download worldwide on the internet.

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