Family Brings Naturally Grown Food To Main Street
By Susan Hart
“It is thus with farming: if you do one thing late, you will be late in all your work.” Cato the Elder.
Hear that, Water Valley growers? The Farmers Market is just around the corner, and your local produce and wares are what will make it another successful season.
Fresh products such as eggs, honey, garden produce, flowers and herbs were on sale at last year’s market. Homemade fried pies, tamales, breads, preserves, juices and hand ground grits and cornmeal were served up as well. Hand poured soaps and a few handicrafts were also on display.
“Last season exceeded many expectations,” reported Farmers Market Manager, Alexe van Beuren. “This year we want people to depend on the market rain or shine, downtown on Saturday’s, 8 a.m. to Noon. Live music was a hit before, and anyone who can strum a guitar or play the fiddle is invited to bring their acoustic gear and a tip bucket.
“We’re always interested in having new vendors. Plans are to start up in May (TBA), and keep on doing what we’re doing. There will be a $1 vendor fee each Saturday we’re open. The rules are: grow it yourself, make it yourself. No kits, no whole-selling, no cakes from a box.”
Gladne Harris of Harris Farms, 5313 CR 224, Water Valley, began preparations for the coming season when she started her new crop of garlic back in October, 2008. In the 100 ft. x 50 ft. garden, Gladne has planted over 24 varieties of garlic. Some of these types will be used for seed and to test growing conditions in our area. Other kinds are exotic varieties like creole garlic.
In 1999, the Harris family moved to Water Valley where they found the kind of property they were looking for to pursue a self sustaining lifestyle by living off the land. For a decade, Gladne has been growing pesticide free produce to feed her family and friends. In addition, Mrs. Harris educates her community on the benefits of growing their own. “In a small 4ft. x 6 ft. plot,” Gladne explains, “a family can grow enough nutritious foods to feed themselves and more. There are many other local farmers who are willing to invest their own money and time to help their neighbors understand what is in the store bought food supply, and to show correct methods and safe pesticides for their own families.”
With Harris Farms expansion to include the commercial garlic crop, comes the satisfaction of being certified naturally grown (CNG). “CNG is an eco-label for small farmers that grow using Organic methods but have chosen NOT to become USDA certified Organic. The program includes an online application process, annual farm inspections, and random pesticide residue testing to ensure consumer confidence,” from http://www.localharvest.org where you can also search products available in your area.
You can find out more about the Harris family farm where it is registered at “http://www.naturallygrown.org. On this site, certified growers are listed and requirements for certification are available. Gladne is also a member of the Lafayette County Master Gardeners Associations and a vendor at the Water Valley Farmers Market. Last season, she offered chemical free produce, herbs and more, including delicious homemade pralines. “The Farmers Market is an opportunity for the grower to connect with interested persons looking to purchase homegrown items,” said Gladne. “You won’t find millionaire farmers at the local market, but there will be folks willing to sell their surplus to others who really appreciate fresh products grown in local soil.”
Does this information “plant a seed” for a springtime gardening? Get out that tiller, round up those heirloom seeds, and make plans to join us at the Water Valley Farmers Market in May.