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Oxford Community Market Strengthens Bond Between Farmers And Consumers

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How we eat actually impacts more than our stomachs and nutrients inside of our bodies. The food we consume impacts our immediate local environments.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the direct relationship between consumers and their local food is increasing. This year, the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory projected that there were 8,669 farmers markets listed. That’s an increase of 2.3 percent since last year.

img_7374In Oxford, the community gathers every Tuesday at the Old Armory Pavilion for the Oxford Community Farmers Market. The weekly gathering is strengthening the connection between farmers and their consumers.

Betsy Chapman is an integral part of the relationship between farmers and consumers as the market manager for the Oxford Community Farmers Market. She manages basic operations for the event, including vendor recruiting, space management and social promotion.

“It’s important for us to build the local food system,” Chapman said. “We generate revenue that goes back into Oxford by supporting local farmers.”

According to Chapman, the Oxford Community Market is also a foundation for educating young children about gas emissions.

img_7379“Eating locally reduces the carbon footprint that may be left by food trucks that travel far away,” Chapman said. “There’s an important social aspect as well; we’re creating a space for people to exchange and gather ideas in person.”

Chapman also said it’s important to provide fresh food while welcoming underserved customers.

Beside the fact that consumers are able to purchase foods from their local environment, they also have the opportunity to meet the farmers that grow the food they’ll be consuming.

Chapman believes this face-to-face interaction builds a unique trust that many food consumers aren’t able to develop.

Leonard Brown is a local farmer from the Brown’s farm in Water Valley, Mississippi. According to Brown, it’s important to participate in the Oxford Community Farmers Market to provide consumers with a variety of what’s growing locally.

img_7380“It enables people to collect fresh produce that is chemical free,” Brown said. “What I bring has no chemicals or pesticides, which makes it healthier.”

Brown believes one of the issues surrounding local food growth is the simple fact that people don’t know about it.

“It’s really important they know about it because it gives them another choice, rather than buying produce that’s shipped in hundreds of miles away,” Brown said. “It actually gives them a healthy solution right here at home.”

Young farmers of America are an important aspect for sustaining the growing relationship between farmers and consumers.

img_7382Andrew Tackett, a young farmer from Goose Valley farms in Oxford, is serving in his first full season of the Oxford Community Farmers Market.

He believes it’s important for him to participate because it enables him to engage with the direct community of Oxford.

“It helps build a stronger community, and it helps educate children that aren’t necessarily getting the education in school,” Tackett said. “It helps the new generation understand the benefits of locally grown food made by local people.”

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By Taylor Shelley, a journalism student at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. He can be reached at tcshelle@go.olemiss.edu.

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