Market grows roots in Jackson

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By Ebbie Davis, Photo Editor

Russell Mayfield, 79-year-old farmer and vender from Gibson County, charms customers with his humor and wit while selling his produce at the West Tennessee Farmers’ Market Photo by Ebbie Davis

While strolling down Market Street in downtown Jackson on a Saturday morning, people will hear not only the tunes of a live musician, but also the laughter and conversations of people bargaining for a good deal on great produce, found at the West Tennessee Farmers’ Market.

Jackson’s market has been somewhat of a hidden treasure up until the past two years, when Nona Brummett, director of the farmers’ market, was hired and began advertising and involving the surrounding community more directly.

The farmers’ market has 43 stalls hosting more than 50 vendors throughout the week. The market is open Tuesday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. or until the vendor sells out. On any given Saturday, Brummett said, 3,500 community members come through the market to purchase produce and crafts.

“The farmers’ market offers good healthy food at a good reasonable price, you know where the products came from and you can talk to the farmer so they can tell you what they put on it and if they did put anything on it,” Brummett said.

The West Tennessee Farmers’ Market was established in 1991, and has been growing since. Russell Mayfield, 73-year-old farmer and vender from Gibson County, has been involved with the market system for the last 30 years.

“I always liked to farm, and I enjoy raising it,” Mayfield said. “I enjoy it so much that I do it every year. I pick (crops) one day, and I bring it to the market the next, it’s that fresh. Shopping here is a lot cheaper (than grocery stores) and you get a better flavor from getting it fresh off the farm.”

Not only do customers save money by shopping at the farmers’ market, they are often encouraged to try the product prior to purchasing it. Venders will slice open a watermelon or hand costumers a fresh vegetable and ask them to taste it before they buy it.

“I’ve met a lot of good people coming to the farmers’ market, and as for the people that come to the market, it’s their way of visiting,” Mayfield said. “They meet people they haven’t seen in a long time, so everyone just gets together and has a good time.”

The farmers’ market offers fresh produce, grass-fed beef, fresh farm milk and ice cream, pies, granola, jam, homemade bread and various crafts. The venue remains the same but the products are always changing.

“I’d love to have a program for the seniors to participate in, and this Christmas we are having a shop set up for the children to go into and buy gifts for their parents and siblings in a safe environment, yet still keeping the gifts a secret from their parents,” Brummett said. “I’m inviting several crafters to come in and sell their items for under $10, so the children can afford it.”

Brummett encourages Union students to sell their artwork and help out with the farmers’ market.

The market will have a yard sale Oct. 15 and Nov. 5, and Brummett asks students and community members to come and sell things they cannot wear anymore.

The West Tennessee Farmers’ Market is a place where the Jackson community can come together as a family and share their crops and their lives with those around them.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.