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Why Are Farmers Growing Food In Oxford?

Produce from Mudline Farms in Water Valley.
Produce from Mudline Farms in Water Valley.

The growing movement to support organic food production is becoming more evident every day. Accordingly, the term organic has become very sticky. It is easy to see the benefits in food that is grown naturally without the aid of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. But is buying organic food all that we can do to support a more quality way of providing meals?  We should really pay attention to where the food we buy is coming from. There are many reasons why buying locally grown food should be the next big thing.

By asking several local farmers why it is important for people to buy their food locally, we got a taste of why they are doing what they’re doing.

“It’s difficult to pick the most important answer,” said Daniel Wicker. “There are economic reasons. The number one reason is that the consumer can have a handle on how and where their food was grown. If you buy from the grocery store, you don’t even know what country the food came from. It gives a good peace of mind and also a great flavor.”

–Wicker’s farm is just north of Paris, MS but he has a Water Valley address.

“It puts our land to good use, it creates jobs for Mississippi and I think it’s an enriching experience to eat food grown in your backyard,” said Josephine Alexander, as she took a bite out of a bright red tomato. “Local produce tastes so much better. It is a completely different thing. Also, you can get way more varieties. You can come here and buy things that you’ve never even seen before. All of this stuff was picked just this morning.”

–Alexander’s farm, Tubby Creek Farm, is in Ashland, MS.

“I could write a page,” said Doug Pepper. “At our local farmers market you find food that is fresher and that’s grown with care. And, when you buy local food it sure helps our local economy,”

–Pepper’s farm, Welcome Valley Farms, is between Oxford and Batesville right off of Highway 6.

“Knowing where your food came from and how it was grown,” said Betsy Chapman. ”You can’t go to a supermarket and know what chemicals were used and how the workers were treated. When you go to a farmers market it makes you appreciate it more; the people and work that it takes to get food from the field to people’s mouths. Also, vendors at the market often let you try a sample of different things before you buy them.”

–Chapman works at Yokna Bottoms Farm that is about eight miles south of Oxford. They have a CSA program along with selling at markets.

“The impact on the environment,” said Nathan Richardson, also from Yokna Bottoms. “There are no fuel costs to ship the food. Supporting local business, simply better quality and because I work locally.”

“Because you get to financially support people in your own community,” said Melissa Ondrovcik. “Growing a local economy is good for every single person in the economy.”

–Ondrovcik’s farm, Mudline Farms, is in Water Valley, MS. They help provide for the B.T.C. grocery in Water Valley.

“It’s important to support your local community,” said Amanda Stark. “It’s beneficial because you get quality food at a good price and it has great flavor.”

–Stark’s operation, Cherry Creek Orchards, is in Pontotoc, MS. They grow several different fruits.

“It’s complex,” said Will Reed. “It keeps me in business.”

Reed’s farm, Native Son Farm, is in Tupelo, MS. They sell most of their produce in Tupelo and Starkville but on Tuesdays he is in Oxford. 

Josephine Alexander selling vegetables to a customer.
Josephine Alexander selling vegetables to a customer.

Oxford has many locations to shop from local growers. The Mid-town Farmers Market that meets on North Lamar, in front of Big Bad Breakfast, sets up every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is the North Lamar Farmers Market grocery store that carries milk from Brown Family Dairy and Sweet Magnolia ice cream that is made from Brown milk and some locally grown produce. The newest place in town is the Oxford City Market at 2650 West Oxford Loop. The Oxford City Market sets up on Tuesdays from 3 pm to 6 pm. They usually have around fifteen vendors and it is a great success.

Story and pictures contributed by Hayden Phillips, Ole Miss journalism student, mhphill1@go.olemiss.edu.


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