GROWTH: Natchez Farmer’s Market Expands – Mississippi’s Top Community Newspaper

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NATCHEZ – Eddie Kennedy of Kennedy & Son’s Produce in Oak Grove, Louisiana, packs a truckload of produce before 5 a.m. every Saturday and drives two and a half hours to Natchez to be at the farmer’s market before it opens at 8:30 a.m. . a m

He stays until farmer’s market manager Eddie Burkes rings the bell at noon, which alerts vendors that it’s time to pack up and alerts customers that the market is closing.

Kennedy has been coming to the Natchez Farmer’s Market for 18 years, since before the Farmer’s Market was moved from the 100 block of Commerce Street to the Natchez Cliff every Saturday, he said. Now he is one of more than two dozen regular sellers.

Last week, her table was filled with fresh corn, ripe red tomatoes, bags of black peas, lush green peppers and zucchini, bright yellow squash and bulbous watermelons.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables come and go, but the Farmer’s Market is open every Saturday year-round. If it’s not fresh produce, the Farmer’s Market offers preserves, jams, dairy, and baked or handmade goods.

The number one rule for sellers is that products cannot be purchased elsewhere and resold. Everything is grown or made by sellers so that it passes directly from grower to consumer without a “middleman” taking a cut of the profit, Burkes said.

It’s not the highest-paying job in the world, but it’s how Kennedy makes a living, he said.

The same goes for Robert Coleman, who sat under a giant stuffed cartoon-like monkey called “Frank” hanging from the roof of his tent.

Beneath Frank’s feet is a tray full of jars containing Coleman’s best-selling “Monkey Butter”, a jam that tastes like fresh ripe bananas.

But Coleman’s favorite is his homemade carrot cake spread, which goes well with a piping hot cookie, he said. His accent immediately alerts his customers that he is not from here. He grew up in South Africa.

“The boss,” he said, moved him and his business, Four Rivers Farms, to Jonesville, Louisiana.

By “boss” he means his wife Kim. Coleman said he had been involved with the Natchez Farmer’s Market for four years.

Some aren’t necessarily there to make money, but rather to bond with new and old friends, Burkes said.

The downtown Natchez Farmer’s Market has 25-30 regular vendors.

“It really flourished during COVID because there was about a six-month period where people didn’t know where they were going to get their food, so they came here,” he said.

Burkes added that he is the manager, but there are many other people involved in making the Natchez Farmer’s Market happen each week. It is organized by the Community Development Department of the City of Natchez led by James Johnston, Burkes said.

The Farmer’s Market will remain on the bluff for the foreseeable future as many businesses have found regular customers there, he said. In addition to farmers traveling for hours to sell their produce, the Farmer’s Market has also become an incubator for local businesses, like edible cookie dough maker Rolling ‘N’ the Dough.

“We have a lot more regular vendors,” Burkes said. “We almost fill the space every week.”

Coleman said he preferred the new space.

“I used to pack everything up and take it to Commerce, and after an eight to 10 hour work day, I made $87,” he said. “It’s much better here.”


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