Thursday, November 30, 2023

Oxford Community Market Offers Local Food, Fellowship

By Malik McIntyre

Journalism Student

photo by @Marilyn.rhea on IG

Oxford Community Market is a non-profit organization that is focused on improving access to local food for the community.

Betsy Chapman, the market director, spoke recently about the growth of the organization.

“I have really been doing this for a while so I am getting the chance to see just how far the local food community has come in all these years,” Chapman said. “Now there are more places than ever in Oxford to purchase local food and there are more farms in the area and more farms from the surrounding counties that come to Oxford. It’s been really great to see that growth.”

The market is continuing to thrive, but when COVID-19 first arrived there were many challenges for the weekly event.

“It’s been very stressful just like it has been for everyone else. We had to figure out how to remain operational while keeping our vendors and customers safe and adhering to all the guidelines. Our first priority is safety,” Chapman said. “Things that we had to change were the community activities and events that we are known for hosting at the market. So that was one big change to have to not do kids activities or potluck meals or other types of social activities that we really enjoy hosting.

“So we were more geared towards just strictly being open for people to come in and quickly shop and leave. So it wasn’t as much of the socializing aspect that the market is known for. We were just thrilled that we were able to stay open so that our farmers would continue to have a place to sell. We’re also sad that we weren’t able to do a lot of the fun stuff that gets people to the market and helps you know, provide that community space for socializing.”

Cynthia Partee, a regular visitor of the market, expressed how great it is to see the market back to its normal routine.

“The market means a lot to the people in our community. It’s a place for fellowship and fun,”  Partee said. “It means the world to me to be able to come shop with familiar faces again and to help put money back into the community.”

The Oxford Community Market represents the generous nature and diversity of the Oxford community, according to Chapman. Being a part of the journey has been very rewarding for many involved, from farmers to shoppers.

“When you walk into that market, I think people just genuinely feel the love and generosity in a community and the market itself provides a place for people to connect who might not otherwise know each other,” Chapman said. “We’ve got students working with senior citizens and people from all walks of life, coming together around a common interest, and that leads to like all of these incredible opportunities and partnerships for projects and ways that we can just make Oxford a better place to live.”

The market is held every Tuesday from 3 to 6:30 p.m. at the old Armory pavilion located at the corner of University Avenue and Bramlett Boulevard.