May 13, 2010 2:22:00 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
The abundant beauty of spring has followed a long, hard Golden Triangle winter. And what better way to put the final exclamation point on Mother Nature''s glowing transition than with openings Saturday of Columbus'' Hitching Lot Farmers'' Market and the Starkville Community Market?
In Columbus, from 7 to 10 a.m., join neighbors and friends to celebrate the new growing season. Fresh produce, handmade arts and crafts, flowering plants, live music, a creative children''s activity -- it''s all part of the "locally grown, made or conjured up" mission of the Market located at the corner of Second Avenue and Second Street North.
Growers are expected to bring in just-picked produce such as yellow squash, green onions, arugula, romaine lettuce, turnip greens, mustard greens and more. Add fresh eggs, heirloom tomato plants and local honey, too. As the season advances, more and more of the freshest produce to be found will be added to Market fare. And look for local artisans with their hand-crafted wares including pottery, candles and other intriguing must-haves.
A new Hitching Lot flower pot, boasting the Market''s logo truck, will be unveiled, as well.
"This Saturday, we''ll have live music by Paul Brady, and BluBox will provide the children''s activity," said Amber Brislin of Main Street Columbus. "Children will get to make a craft with safe, colorful recycled glass."
As in past seasons, the Farmers'' Market will be open from 7 to 10 a.m. every Saturday through October, and every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 6 to 10 a.m.
The Hitching Lot will also host Mississippi State University associate Extension professor Dr. Lelia Kelly Saturday. She''ll present an entertaining workshop at 8:30 a.m. on herbs and their use in the kitchen.
"My emphasis is going to be on cooking with herbs," Kelly said. "Herbs are so easy to grow, and you have so many choices that you can grow in Mississippi."
Market-goers can put that herbal know-how to use right away. Palmer Home for Children will have a wide variety for sale, straight from their greenhouses.
"We''ll have potted herbs including lemon thyme, variegated oregano, lavender, bronze fennel, lemon verbena, basil, chocolate mint, pineapple mint and pineapple sage," informed Mary Tuggle, Palmer Home''s director of horticulture. Flowering plants like geraniums, impatiens and petunias will also tempt market shoppers.
Kelly said, "Herbs are wonderful in so many ways. We usually think of them with cooking, but, you know, they''re really just great ornamentals in the garden, too; they smell good and look good."
The Hitching Lot Farmers'' Market is known for offering that little something different. This season, it''s a newly-designed flower pot carrying the vintage farmer''s truck logo so often associated with the community gathering place.
Steven Garner of Three Oaks Pottery in Columbus created the clay pots at the urging of Beth Imes, an avid Market supporter and member of the advisory board. He used a Matchbox truck to make the design stamp.
Garner, who is also program manager of Community Counseling''s Brighter Days facility, and his wife, Beverly, are fans of flavorful herbs themselves.
"If I had to name my favorites, they would be basil, oregano, rosemary and cilantro," he shared. The 2-pound pots, a perfect size for starting herbs or flowers, will be available as a Market fundraiser.
Starkville Community Market
Saturday also marks opening day for the Starkville Community Market in its new downtown location at the corner of Jackson and Lampkin Streets.
A newly-installed 20-by-20 foot pavilion donated by Gulf States Manufacturing now enhances the site where growers, artisans and other vendors will gather every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
"The public is invited to a dedication Friday, May 14, at 11:30 a.m.," said Jennifer Gregory, the Greater Starkville Development Partnership''s vice president for tourism development. "Refreshments donated by the Veranda and made with produce from our vendors will be served." Tom Henderson will provide live music at Friday''s dedication.
Hardworking volunteers, including Dylan Karges of the Starkville Area Arts Council, have been busy cleaning and landscaping to get the new area ready for opening weekend.
Market co-organizers Jeremiah Dumas an Tammy Tyndall Carlisle helped spearhead the move to relocate Starkville''s market to its new location, transforming a once-vacant lot into a community hub. Plans include adding gardens at the site.
Gregory noted, "There are just a few things to be done, but the sign is up and everything is looking good."
In Columbus, the Hitching Lot Farmers'' Market advisory board and Friends of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library are partnering to introduce a series of mid-day book talks in June.
Advisory board member Margo Bretz explained. "We have food-related programs lined up for the five Wednesdays in June at the library. They''re free to attend." Lunch will also be available for purchase.
Speakers for the innovative series -- called Table Talk -- include Linda Rood, on "A Grand Heritage" cookbook; Bob Raymond, on "Delicious Memories: Recipes of Fran Fowler Hazard" and "Recipes and Reminiscences: Mary Higgins Raymond"; Anne Freeze, on "The Food of a Younger Land"; Nancy Springfield on "Being Dead is No Excuse"; and Spencer Smith on Michael Pollan''s "The Omnivore''s Dilemma."
As sure as plump, ripe tomatoes and sweet yellow corn are in our futures, other highlights are in store in the months ahead, including a June 12 appearance at the Hitching Lot Farmer''s Market by garden guru Felder Rushing.
There are plenty of appetizing and eye-pleasing reasons to patronize your farmers'' markets this bountiful season. Play an important part in cultivating these vibrant community assets. Your taste buds will thank you!
ON THE WEB:
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.