August 1, 2009 10:36:00 PM
The Hitching Lot Farmers'' Market was recently certified by the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce as part of the Mississippi Farmers'' Market Certification Program. The MDA launched the program as a way to recognize the growing number of farmers'' markets across the state.
Designed as a "marketing initiative to identify and promote markets where producers of Mississippi-grown fruits, vegetables and plant materials gather to sell their goods direct to consumers," certification provides promotional and technical assistance from the state agency.
"This gives even more credibility to the quality of our market. It''s something we''ve been working toward for some time," said Amber Murphree Brislin, director of Main Street Columbus, which coordinates market operation. "It brings added publicity, too, because you''re included in all the state Department of Agriculture sites and listings."
The certification followed evaluation by an MDA representative who visited Columbus, attending a market day and conferring with growers.
"As health conscious consumers increasingly demand fresh fruits and vegetables, the number of farmers'' markets in the state increases," a July 23 MDA press release reads. "By shopping at a certified market, consumers can be confident they are purchasing Mississippi-grown produce from Mississippi growers. "
Thirty-four growers participate regularly in the local market, located at the corner of Second Street and Second Avenue North. But the number on any given Saturday can be as high as 50, Murphree said.
"People can always still come and pay to set up just that day," she reminded.
The market is open through October, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-10 a.m. and Saturdays from 7-10 a.m. For more information, contact Main Street Columbus at 662-328-6305, or visit www.hitchinglotfarmersmarket.com. For information about additional farmers'' markets in the state, visit www.msfarmersmarket.com, or call 601-354-6573.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.