Downtown Greenwood Farmers’ Market

Downtown Greenwood Farmers' Market Intro Photo

The Downtown Greenwood Farmers’ Market was established in 2008 as a project of Main Street Greenwood, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote economic development and revitalization in this Delta town, once known as the Cotton Capital of the World. Located along the old Columbus and Greenville Railway, the Market connects two parts of Greenwood that have long been separated. Every Saturday from May through September, up to 15 vendors from Greenwood and surrounding counties set up tents, offering everything from blueberries to barbecue. The Market offers support for local growers and make fresh foods available to people who might not otherwise have access to them. It has become a gathering place for all members of the community—rich and poor, young and old, black and white.

The Market is within walking distance of the Alluvian, a boutique hotel, as well as some of Greenwood’s low-income neighborhoods. A tourist might take home a loaf of artisanal bread baked by Donald Bender of Mockingbird Bakery, while a local might purchase turnip greens from Hallie Streater of Streater Farm and pay with cash-value vouchers, the product of a government program created to ensure low-income families access to fresh food.

Vendors at the Market offer fascinating insight to Mississippi Delta’s agricultural history, as well as examples of small-scale producers who have found a new way to supplement existing income. They also speak to the community that is cultivated at the Market every Saturday during the season.

Meet John D. Ashcraft III, who grew up on Roebuck Plantation, a cotton farm just outside of Greenwood, and now grows blueberries. Hear Leann Hines talk about how the Downtown Greenwood Farmers’ Market was the catalyst for her pastured poultry business. Listen to Alisa Lay talk about the longhorn okra seeds that her family has saved for almost 200 years and how she shares her family’s heritage with customers at the Market. Listen to each of them talk about the connections they’ve made through food.

These are the stories of the Downtown Greenwood Farmers’ Market.


Funding from Anson Mills, the South Carolina grower and miller of grains, drives SFA's agricultural oral histories.

Interviews

2 Sisters in the Kitchen

Alisa Lay comes from a family of Mississippi sharecroppers. Her great-grandmother had seventeen children and stretched resources and ingredients to feed the family. Her grandmother saved seeds. Okra seeds. Those seeds made their way down the branches of the family tree to Alisa and her sister, Brenda Glenn. When their grandmother died, Alisa and Brenda began pouring through her recipe books. They found recipes for onion relish, black bean and corn salsa, and pickled okra.

Blaylock Farm - Benny Blaylock - Greenwood Farmers' Market

Blaylock Farm

Bennie works almost 45 acres just because, as he puts, he “likes to see things grow.” He plants everything from okra to watermelon, tomatoes to butterbeans. All without the help of irrigation. He takes the bounty he collects from his “hobby garden” down the road 29 miles to the Downtown Greenwood Farmers Market every Saturday during the season. His booth is one of the biggest, especially when his watermelons come in. “I love to sell a big watermelon,” says Bennie. And what he doesn’t sell at the Market, he takes to the kitchen door of Delta Bistro in Greenwood, where chef Taylor Bow Ricketts buys everything he has left on his trailer.

The Last Resort Plantation - Hal Fiore - Greenwood Farmers' Market

Last Resort Plantation

After a career with the U. S. Forest service and a failed business attempt on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Hal returned home. He settled into a house at Last Resort Plantation, carved out five acres for himself, and started a garden. In 2008 he heard rumblings about a farmers’ market starting up in Greenwood, and he got involved. He saw it as an opportunity to be a part of something big—something that might influence the future of agriculture in the Mississippi Delta. Hal has been connected to the Downtown Greenwood Farmers’ Market ever since. You’ll find him at the main market tent, fielding questions, talking sustainability, and selling the produce he grows on the five acres he works at Last Resort Plantation.

Levee Run Farm - Leann Hines - Greenwood Farmers' Market

Levee Run Farm

Today Leann operates Levee Run Farm, where she raises farm-fresh eggs, as well as pastured poultry of all kinds: chickens, quails, ducks, and turkeys. It took her a few decades to decide to like chickens, but now she can’t imagine doing anything else. “I’m living my dream,” she says with a smile.

Mockingbird Bakery

A native of Oxford, Mississippi, Donald Bender fell into baking quite by accident. After working as a line cook here and there for 15 years, he moved back home and got a job at a new place some friends were opening near the Oxford square, Bottletree Bakery. He didn’t have any baking experience, so one of the owners, Martha Foose, called on a friend in California to come in and train him. Donald learned to bake bread, and he also found a wife. He and Martha married, moved around a bit, and then landed back at Martha’s family home place in Tchula, Mississippi.

Roebuck Plantation Blueberry Farm - John D. Ashcraft III - Greenwood Farmers' Market

Roebuck Plantation Blueberry Farm

John D. Ashcraft III—and probably most of the Delta—thought his father was a little crazy to plant blueberries that far north. Even so, John and his brother jumped on board and helped their father carve out acreage to plant 3,000 blueberry bushes in 1988. That same year they joined the Miss-Lou (Mississippi-Louisiana) Blueberry Growers Cooperative. From the beginning, they have enjoyed bountiful harvests of Delta-grown blueberries, sold plenty to the co-op, and established a loyal group of local customers, some of whom enjoy visiting the farm to pick their own fruit.

Spooney's Bar-B-Que - Leroy "Spooney" Kenter

Spooney’s Bar-Be-Que

Leroy Kenter, Jr., better known as “Spooney,” started cooking barbecue in Kansas City, Kansas. When he returned home to his native Greenwood, he knew he wanted to have his own place and make a name for his personal brand of ‘cue and sauce. He started out with a smoker in his mother’s yard. In 1996 he moved his business to a narrow storefront on Johnson Street in downtown Greenwood, just across from the old Columbus and Greenville Railway Depot.

Streater Farm - Hallie Streater - Greenwood Farmers' Market

Streater Farm

For twenty years, Hallie worked at in a factory in Greenwood. She would sell produce on the side to supplement her income, delivering vegetables to people in town or letting friends come by her house. The factory closed in 2002, and Hallie turned to farming full time.