Vendor says Gulfport farmer's market location is rotten - - The News for South Mississippi

Vendor says Gulfport farmer's market location is rotten


By Steve Phillips – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Some longtime produce vendors are upset with a new, temporary location for the Gulfport farmer's market.

With Jones Park still under construction, the city wants the market to set-up outside the old train depot this season. But some frustrated vendors say that's a bad idea.

This isn't the first time over the years the farmers have complained about the location of the Gulfport market. For different reasons, they've been moved several times in the past.

The Smith family peddles produce from a roadside stand along Highway 49 in Stone County.  This time of year, Mary Smith is usually getting excited about April's opening of the Gulfport farmer's market.

"I love going down there. I love my customers. They make me laugh and put a smile on my face every Tuesday and Friday," said Mary Smith.

But Smith isn't smiling this season. She has some real concerns about moving to the old train depot downtown.

"The parking for our customers. The safety of our customers. There's not going to be enough spaces for us to display our produce properly," said Smith. "They want me to bring one box of this and one box of that and three or four watermelons. That's it. That's the only room I'm going to have to display anything. They want one table. That's it."

New regulations limit display space to "no more than the width of a vehicle." In the past, the Smiths set up several tables of fruit and vegetables.

Then there's the worry about customers finding the market at the downtown depot.

"They're not going to be able to find us. They're not going to have enough parking for everybody. There's going to be a big safety issue where they're trying to put us. They don't care. They do not care. They have made places for other people to do what they need to do, but when it comes to the farmer's market, it's always a runaround," said Mary Smith's daughter, Cuppie Smith, who also works at the Gulfport market.

The parking lot at the old library was considered as a temporary site for the farmer's market, and it's a location the Smiths prefer.  It's located directly across from Jones Park and still very visible from busy Highway 90.

"But over by the train depot. Bad idea," Mary Smith said.

The city is confident the depot will work out fine. 

"We feel the heart of downtown by the depot will benefit them greatly," said city spokesman Ryan LaFontaine. "Many people will pass by them and they'll have great visibility. We feel this will be a good fit for the vendors."

The Gulfport farmer's market is set to open on April 6.  It will then be open every Tuesday and Friday through early November.

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