By Alyssa Schnugg
Oxford Community Market, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving access to locally grown and produced food, launched its 2021 Winter Market season this week.
Market hours during the winter season are noon to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Old Amory Pavillion.
The winter season runs from January through March.
Now in its second year of year-round operations, OXCM’s Winter Market is a project supported by a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant. The main goal of the project was to expand the market season, originally April-November, to allow farmers and food producers to continue sales through the winter months.
“Year-round farmers’ markets are common around the country, often in places with much colder climates than ours,” said market director Betsy Chapman. “The goal of our project is to develop the organizational infrastructure to operate a market season that reflects our long growing season so that we can support our farmers year-round.”
During the winter season produce such as leeks, pecans, brussel sprouts, cabbage and spinach can be found at the market along with grass-fed beef, eggs, and baked and canned goods.
OXCM is also involved in several programs to improve access to healthy local food for those in the community who have been traditionally underserved.
“As the pandemic has revealed the enormity of unmet need, we have doubled down on our outreach work and on establishing relationships with our neighbors who have been most impacted by the crisis,” Chapman said.
In previous years, a lot of OXCM’s outreach focus has been on getting people to the market – mitigating the barriers of cost and transportation and offering free social and educational programming.
“During the COVID crisis, we have pivoted to put ourselves out in the community where we can have a stronger, more direct impact on helping meet basic needs and improving access to healthy food,” Chapman said.
In 2021, OXCM plans to continue fostering the neighbor-to-neighbor networks of support that it has built during 2020 to ensure that families in the LOU community have access to sufficient quantities of healthy food.
Some highlights of OXCM’s 2020 outreach work include:
- Providing $7,962 in Market Fresh Gift Cards (vouchers) for underserved citizens to access fresh food at OXCM.
- Participating in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program in partnership with the Mississippi Dept. of Agriculture that provided $13,000 in FMNP Vouchers for Lafayette County WIC, Senior, and Healthy Start clients.
- Providing weekly deliveries of market goods to the Oxford Food Pantry and the homebound
- Providing over $1,500 of fresh local food for Pantry clients and homebound seniors at Thanksgiving through our Harvest Angel project.
- Establishing the CB Webb Neighborhood Resilience Garden and ongoing outreach programming to engage families in the local food community.
- Partnering with the University of Mississippi Greek community to provide over 900 free meals for residents of CB Webb and Canterbury Crest.
- Hosting five “pop-up” markets in underserved communities, providing free deliveries of local food to residents of CB and Canterbury Crest.
- Establishing and stocking a Little Free Pantry in early December that has already provided an estimated $1,000 of food for families in need.
- Providing over 130 Healthy Halloween Bags and 100 Christmas bags of food and toiletries for children and seniors at CB Webb and Canterbury Crest.