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Oxford Community Market offers what grocery stores don’t

Brittany Case buys Delta Ridge BBQ Sauce from Carey File. Photo by Abby Thompson.

If it’s a Tuesday in Oxford, it’s time for homemade jars of jam and fresh-picked produce at the Oxford Community Market (OXCM).

Located on the corner of Bramlett Blvd. and University Ave. at the Old Armory Pavilion, hundreds of locals and out-of-town visitors make their way there weekly during the months of April through December.

The market hosts more than 35 vendors, providing shoppers with many things homemade and homegrown. 

“A lot of people don’t really know what ‘in-season’ really means,” Betsy Chapman, the market’s director, said. “You can go to the grocery store and buy cauliflower all year, but having it in its true season, picked by a local farmer 50 miles away that day, holds much more nutritional value and meaning to our customers.” 

Vendors at the OXCM come from all across North Mississippi and bring many products to the table.

“Aside from the plants, fruits, and vegetables, we also have a variety of other items like eggs, homemade pasta, jams, jellies, relishes, and sauces,” Chapman said. 

Unlike the typical grocery-store setting, the marketplace allows the customers to talk directly to their farmers. They are able to ask where the food they are buying is coming from, enabling the farmers to educate their customers.

“This is the most ancient form of commerce right here,” Chapman said. “The producer brings the goods, the customer directly buys from the producer, and the producer keeps 100% of the profits.” 

Carey File has been a vendor for 17 weeks and has sold over 5,900 bottles of his homemade ‘Delta Ridge BBQ Sauce.’ 

“We’d been making theses sauces for about 20 years,” File said. “Friends and family started begging us to sell it, so we did and it’s gone nuts.” 

File and his wife make gallons of their sauces every night for five to six hours at a time. He is a part of four different markets every week and is drawn to the atmosphere and people each brings.

“I think people come to these because of the experience,” File said. “There’s a lot that falls through the cracks because of big retailers. “I love hearing the stories. I love what people have chosen to do to make this work for them.” 

Even with the Oxford Kroger planning to expand its store and adding in local produce, File is confident peopel will keep coming to OXCM.

“I think the patrons here love the marketplace atmosphere,” File said. “You can’t go to Kroger and have someone teach your kids about how squash is grown. That’s something only a market can do.” 

Chapman says OXCM plays a larger role.

“What I really want is just a community-gathering place,” Chapman said. “The farmer’s market is a people’s market. It belongs to every person in the community regardless of what walk of life you come from.”

Oxford Community Market is open every Tuesday afternoon from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., April through December, rain or shine. 

This 360 image is a visual of the Oxford Community Market, where shoppers can find homegrown vegetables, plants, baked goods, and a community. Photo by Abby Thompson.

Story contributed by Abby Thompson.

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