By Danny Toma, staff writer
Wintertime sometimes brings on the blues, especially for those who love to buy their fresh produce at Oxford’s farmers’ markets. As the outdoor markets close down for the winter, regular customers may feel that they have no place to go until spring for local, fresh, or unusual produce.
Despair no longer. One of Oxford’s best kept secrets is the little store on North Lamar just past the city limits. From the outside, it isn’t much to look at, and if it weren’t for the faded, hand-painted sign that says “Farmers’ Market,” there would be very little reason to stop. But stop you should, because inside is a vast array of fresh produce, meats and fish, cheeses, and all manner of gourmet goodies.
For the last 10 years, owners (and husband-and-wife team), Liz Stagg and Frank Coppola, have sought to provide a place where shoppers can “go local” as well as find one-of-a-kind items not available anywhere else in town—think Arkansas Black apples, fresh prickly pear cactus pads (nopales), purple and white sweet potatoes, huge batches of winter greens, pasture-raised eggs, tomatillos, and multiple varieties of dried chilies.
Stagg and Coppola, originally hailing from North Carolina, bought Farmers’ Market with the goal of staying as local as possible, partnering with local farms and other producers. They carry Delta Grind grits, High Point coffee, Peeple’s Farm eggs, Mardis honey, Brown Dairy milk, Honey Bee Bakery bread, and much more. From their other store near Batesville, Stan’s Country Store, they also sell meats and sausages that they process on site.
While local suppliers may not always have the items that their customers crave, Liz and Frank seek out the highest quality producers while trying at all times to keep their prices competitive with other stores in the area. Oxford gourmets need go no further for international food items from Latin America and Asia while at the same time stocking up on homemade beef jerky or locally produced pork rinds. They even make their own doggy treats.
So, don’t let the cold weather dampen your appetite for local food. Drop by Farmers’ Market at 274 County Road 101 (North Lamar) and check out their offerings. They are always happy to suggest ways to prepare items they have on sale or work with customers looking for the right ingredient for that special recipe. Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. (662) 234-9363
Want to know more? Hear a 2011 interview with Liz Stagg’s via the Southern Foodways Alliance here.
About Danny Toma:
After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and will be contributing to EatingOxford.com on a regular basis.