Farmers ready to get fresh produce to Tupelo customers

OXFORD – The Tupelo Farmers’ Market can’t open soon enough for Benton and Pat Brewer.

A recent walk through the couple’s farm outside Oxford showed rows of broccoli, cabbage, English peas, lettuce, spinach, onions and new potatoes, all lush and green and ready to be picked.

The market, located on Spring Street, officially opens at 6 a.m. Saturday, May 18, and will be open Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings through mid-October.

But the Brewers and other vendors may show up a bit earlier than that.

“If the farmers have things they need to sell before the opening date, they may be at the market a Saturday or two before May 18,” said Craig Helmuth, program associate for the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, which operates the market. “That’s what we call a soft opening.”

The recent cool, wet weather has been a blessing for the cold weather crops flourishing in the Brewers’ garden. But it’s thrown a kink into warm-weather vegetables.

“We’ve grown 5,000 tomato plants from seed,” Benton Brewer said. “Usually, we put them in the ground in April, but it’s been too cold and wet this year. We’ve got 2,000 in the ground now. We’re hoping to get the rest in in the next couple of weeks. If not, what we’ve got left in the greenhouse will be too big and we’ll have to throw them away.”

Benton Brewer, 67, said he’s been farming ever since he was a kid. By trade, he was a steeplejack who built, painted and tore down water tanks. When he retired in the 1990s, he took to farming full time.

Pat Brewer, 60, worked at Emerson Electric and then Kroger.

“When he got into this farming and all, I quit my job to help him,” she said. “It’s hard to find someone to do farm work. Benton and I put everything out by hand.”

After the Brewers finish harvesting their cool-weather crops – they also have beets, mustards, turnips, collards, carrots and radishes planted – they’ll turn their attention to the staples of summer.

“About the time you’re finished with your English peas and potatoes and things, you jump into your tomatoes, peppers, peas, squash, corn, cantaloupes and watermelons,” Benton Brewer said. “By the time that’s done, we’re plum give out.”

Pat Brewer said the couple had been eating out of the garden for a few weeks now.

“We’ve had broccoli, onions, lettuce and spinach already,” she said. “We have to eat it before we sell it. If it ain’t good, we’re not carrying it to the market.”

ginna.parsons@journalinc.com

Farmers’ Dinner WHAT: 2nd Annual Feast for the Farmers’ Dinner.

WHEN: Friday, May 17, at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Under the market shed of the Tupelo Farmers’ Market on South Spring Street.

EVENTS: Dinner provided by downtown Tupelo restaurants and live music by HanaLena.

COST: Tickets are $30 each or $50 per couple and may be purchased through the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association or by calling (662)

841-6598.

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal