By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A gigantic mural of colorful produce now greets patrons of the Tupelo Farmers Market as part of an ongoing effort to beautify the otherwise sparse locale.
Nearly one dozen Tupelo High School students on Tuesday completed the project, a pastoral scene featuring produce, sunflowers, a tractor and the words “Buy Local Produce.” It covers the entire wall of the building just north of the market. Building owner Henry Dodge granted permission for the work.
The students, under the guidance of their high school art teacher Anna Lindsey Garner, designed the mural and donated about 40 hours during the past six weeks to paint it.
“They are amazing,” Garner said of the students. “I knew they’d do a great job, and they did. They all have a heart for community service.”
Supplies for the project came from a $10,000 Project for Public Spaces grant obtained by the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, which runs the seasonal market. Remaining funds will go toward other improvements eyed for the space.
“We want to get ceiling fans, make improvements to the shed, do some landscaping,” said Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association Director Debbie Brangenberg, adding that the agency also has other grants and donations it’ll add to the funding pool.
Now in its 12th year, the market occupies an otherwise vacant lot on South Spring Street near the railroad tracks.
Any number of vendors sell a variety of local produce and homemade goods each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning between May and October.
Saturdays typically draw the largest crowds and often feature other activities like corn-shucking demonstrations and live music.
Brangenberg said vendor and shopper attendance has steadily risen over the years.
“When they have fresh peaches, you better get there within 30 minutes of it opening, or you won’t get any,” said city Environmentalist Sherrie Cochran, who contributed to the mural.
Other mural contributors were GumTree Museum of Art Director Kit Stafford, Farmers Market Manager Carl Brangenberg, business owner Charlie Watson and McCarty Construction.