Early Market: Abundant produce moves up selling season for Tupelo farmers

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

The Tupelo Farmers’ Market officially opens May 19, but vendors have been selling fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers, breads and baked goods there for the past two Saturdays.
“It’s been such a warm spring and farmers got stuff in the ground early,” said Craig Helmuth, program associate for the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, which operates the market. “Last year, we opened in mid-May as usual and a lot of farmers didn’t have anything because it had been such a cool spring. This year, it’s been just the opposite.”
This past Saturday, vendors were selling carrots, broccoli, radishes, onions, spinach, English peas, new potatoes, cabbage, strawberries, hydroponic tomatoes and fresh flowers as well as baked goods.
“We’ll continue to have the market open every Saturday until the official opening in three weeks,” Helmuth said Friday. “After that, we’ll be open Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
All 26 permanent stalls at the market have been rented for the season, which ends in October, and other vendors will be allowed in as space becomes available.
“All of our regular vendors are back and we even have a few new ones,” Helmuth said.
On Friday evening, the market will have an official fundraiser called “Feast for the Farmers” at the Farmers’ Market shed on Spring Street. Area chefs from Romie’s, The Stables, the Hilton Garden Inn, Fairpark Grill and Park Heights will prepare foods using produce that is or will be available at the Tupelo market.
“Each restaurant will have a 10×10-foot space where they’ll be serving food they’ve prepared and promoting their restaurant,” he said. “It won’t be a true farm-to-table dinner. Romie’s may do a corn salad, and of course, corn isn’t available at the market yet, but it is representative of what will be at the market later in the season.”
Tickets are $35 each or $60 for a pair for the event, which lasts from 7 to 9 p.m., and are available at the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association office. Seating is limited to 100 guests.
“All proceeds go directly to the farmers’ market,” Helmuth said. “We’re not beating around the bush about this being a fundraiser for the market. We need the money. The shed needs repainting, inside and out, and we’d like to add ceiling fans to circulate the air. We’d love to have permanent restrooms at some point. We do have running water now.”
Devilish Mary’s is also having a party Saturday to benefit the market. It begins at 7 p.m. and will feature heavy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Tickets are $25 each or $40 for a couple, and are available at the boutique or from the Main Street office.
And on Sunday, Devilish Mary’s, His Hers Antiques and Collectibles and Mac & Co. are teaming up for a mother-daughter tea to benefit the market. Tickets are $25 for adults, $10 for children and must be purchased in advance. There are two seatings for the tea, one at 1 p.m. and another at 3 p.m., and both are at Devilish Mary’s. Tickets are available at Devilish Mary’s, His Hers or the Main Street office.
For more information about these events, call (662) 841-6598 or visit www.tupelomainstreet.com.
ginna.parsons@journalinc.com