A Conversation with Cummins at the Madison Farmer’s Market

Amy Cummins joined the City of Madison Economic Development Department in October 2021 as Events Coordinator and Administrative Assistant. She grew up in Vicksburg, and she and her husband, Tom, moved to Madison 17 years ago when her twin daughters were six and starting school. She attends Pinelake Baptist Church and is passionate about being in the community and building business relationships. She was heavily involved in the Madison County Junior Auxiliary and served as Past President. It was her work there that led her to become involved with the city of Madison and ultimately accept this job. Currently, she is planning the annual Madison Farmers Market which takes place in early summer.

What is the Madison Farmer’s Market?

The city started the farmers market in 2013. They started it so locals could buy local. It offers fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables. It is a way for farmers or those who grow produce and fruits and such to sell them to the community, and the community can buy local fruits and vegetables.

When will the Farmers Market start this year and where will it take place?

The Farmers Market is held every Tuesday in June and July from 3-6pm and is located on Main Street behind the Red Caboose. The first Tuesday will be June 7.

What vendors can people expect to see at Farmers Market this year?

We have vendors that range from honey, fresh vegetables, seafood, organic meats, fresh fruits, baked goods, and flowers. We sprinkle in a few jewelry makers and things like that to add a little something different to it, but for the most part it’s all homegrown and whatever you can grow in the summer is what they bring out. Seafood and meats are big popular dishes. We have fresh blueberries and strawberries, honey and pickles – everything homemade is there.

Is there anything new this year compared to previous years?

Yes. I’m adding food trucks this year. The Farmers Market has always had a musician. It gives people background noise while they shop. This year I’m adding the food trucks – basically a food truck and a dessert truck, like snow cones, ice cream or something like that. Then people can hang out, listen to music, shop, dine, sit back and relax. There will be a few different kids’ activities at each market so kids can have something to do while their parents shop and buy their local treats. So the food truck is something I added and something farmers and vendors asked for. They suggested adding a food truck to make people stay longer and give them a reason to come.

What are you most looking forward to at the Farmer’s Market?

I just want it to be a success. I’ve never done it, so it’s very new to me. I’ve done many events, but a farmer’s market is one I’ve never done before.

I really look forward to getting to know the sellers. I heard they are very nice people and cool people. I just really want to get to know them and how they grow their produce, how they grow their meats and vegetables and the process. We have someone bringing in free-range eggs, and I want to know the process the farmers go through to make the free-range eggs. I can’t wait to learn more about the farmer side of things and how they grow things and get to know the vendors themselves.

Where do the farmers and vendors come from?

We like to try to keep it local as much as possible. They are all Mississippi vendors and are mostly local to Madison. There may be one or two that aren’t, but for the most part, they’re all local to Madison and surrounding areas – like Canton.

Why is this an event the City of Madison likes to host?

When they started it in 2013, there wasn’t an event like this. Nobody else has done it around us. So it was just a way for these local people who grow these vegetables and produce to be able to sell them to the communities in which they live. It was also a way for the community to say, “Hey, I want to buy local and I want to buy fresh”, and the fresh comes straight from the garden. It’s a two-way way of doing things. : buy fresh, sell fresh, buy local, sell local. When they started there was no one else doing anything like that, but now you have some pop ups. I know Livingston started with a farmers market a few years ago, but they have since changed theirs.

Madison Farmers Market is a Mississippi Certified Farmer’s Market. There are certain criteria you must be able to meet to be a Certified Mississippi Farmer’s Market. You must be made up of at least 50% local farmers and items, and that’s something we’re proud of. We are Mississippi’s only Certified Farmers Market in this area.

Is there still time for other businesses or farmers to join the Farmers Market?

We are full at the moment, but we are taking a waiting list. We are fully booked but you never know what might happen from week to week. Every week we ask each seller if they will be back next week. Sometimes they don’t have enough products. It all depends on the weather, how much they produce and how much they sell. If they run out of products or items, they may not be able to come back next week. Then we fall back on our waiting list of people to come fill those gaps. We are full at the moment but you can contact us to be on the waiting list, which is a good thing to have. They can contact me at [email protected] or 601-856-7060.

How many outlets are there at the Farmer’s Market?

We have 23 seats. It really depends on how many tents I have, as we supply all tents so they all look the same and uniform. Everyone then brings their table and their goodies.

What would you say to encourage people to come and enjoy the Farmers Market?

I would say just come and support your local farmers. Local shopping is important to a community, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. Come relax, enjoy good company and buy fresh produce. We look forward to seeing you there.

James V. Payne