HED:Tupelo farmers market to open Tuesday

CATEGORY: Tupelo Stories

AUTHOR: MOULDE

HED:Tupelo farmers market to open Tuesday

By Philip Moulden

Daily Journal

Tupelo’s long-awaited downtown farmers market, first scheduled for a May start, will open Tuesday.

The market, located south of the City-County Building on South Spring Street, will initially be open three days a week with official hours of 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Operating days will be Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

“Vendors may come earlier and stay later, depending on what they want to do,” Jim High, assistant director of Tupelo Main Street, said. The Main Street/Tupelo Downtown Association is sponsoring the facility.

The opening was set despite the absence of some amenities that sponsors planned for the building. For instance, there will be no water or electricity available, High said.

Those services will be added, and the building further improved as funds become available. And funding depends closely on the success of the market, High said.

“We decided we’d better get it open as soon as we could, even if it is not in the condition we eventually will have it in,” High said Wednesday.

“We’ve had a lot of producers tell us they’re ready to go. The crops are beginning to come in and they need to get to selling,” he said.

The market will have 26 spaces under roof, and when weather permits, outside spaces may be made available close by. Sponsors have contacted about three times that many producers and expect good response.

Spaces rent for $5 a day or $50 a month. Monthly renters may reserve a particular spot that will be available when they want it.

Sponsors will look for a wide variety in produce, offering permits to not only people selling vegetables but to those offering flowers, hanging baskets, jellies, preserves, baked goods and similar wares, High said.

Participation will be restricted to area vendors offering locally grown produce or homemade products, High said. There will be no wholesale vendors pushing Florida grapefruit or California strawberries, he noted.

Preference will also be granted to Lee County growers and growers from adjacent counties, although producers from Alabama and other area locales won’t be rejected if space is available, High said.

Vendors must be registered with the Main Street organization to operate at the site. Permits will be available on site upon opening each day and must be displayed while goods are being sold.

If the market is as successful as expected, it will be opened on more days for longer periods, High said.

“We just have to see how it goes,” he said.

A grand opening is planned for sometime later in June.

The building is an old storage facility that once served a railroad and later the city’s Public Works Department. It was moved from the old fairgrounds site to its present location this spring.

One improvement planned before Tuesday is painting the roof, High said. “Some civic minded people are going to help us get that done,” he said.

Main Street, in cooperation with a proposed vendors association, will be seeking grants to fund other improvements, he added.