Gulfport Farmer’s Market calls for more local support

About 15 booths make up the market, but as demand dwindles, long-time vendors say what they really need more of is customers.
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 4:49 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Every Wednesday, producers from across the region flock to Jones Park to sell their goods at the Gulfport Farmer’s Market.

Right now, about 15 booths make up the market with enough space for about three more, but as demand dwindles, long-time vendors say what they really need more of is customers.

“Last summer and the summer before, this market was really jamming,” farmer Gavin Deakle said. “I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s kind of taking a nosedive.”

Deakle brings a wide array of fresh vegetables and produce to the area every week straight from his farm in Alabama.

“It’s tough for us on our end to come that far from Grand Bay with a truck and trailer full of produce, but then, have to go home with half of it,” he said.

Vendor Linda Durbin raises about 240 honeybee hives, which is a family tradition of hers for over 40 years.

At the market, she sells homemade honey, jellies and jam, pickles, salsa and more.

“My mom taught me many years ago,” she told WLOX. “And when she passed away, she turned all her recipes over to me, and now I do it in her memory, and that’s why I call it Merle’s Kitchen.”

Durbin said the ongoing construction on the tramway across Highway 90 is impacting her business.

“A lot of people forget about it because it’s not easy to turn in and stuff,” she said.

Currently, most of her patrons are tourists.

“We’ve noticed a big difference this year – I have – as far as different people coming into town for sports events and just traveling to the town,” she said.

The Gulfport Farmer’s Market is open to the public every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Sometimes, for some reason, we have a hard time getting local people out,” manager Suzanna Paulk said. “I know they are busy and have lots of things to do, but this is the time to support us. We’ve been here now 13 years, I think, and this is the time we really need your help to come out and support our vendors.”

As for farmer Deakle, he participates in four markets a week, and his most profitable one is in Ocean Springs on Saturday mornings.

“Gulfport has a lot of people in the city,” he said. “We just need your support for us to keep coming.”

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