Soon, the seasons will be changing again into my personal favorite – spring. Springtime brings nature to life again from the dormant, cold winter. The rains and melting of northern snows bring a bursting Mississippi River to all the cities and towns along the way. This also means it is time for local farmers to begin planting delicious fruits and vegetables. Many farmers will offer their goods at farmers markets and stands along the side of the road. Some farmers even provide produce to local restaurants and grocery stores, giving citizens more options to eat sustainable food products.

You might notice at farmers markets, produce stands and grocery stores that you have the option to buy organic or sustainably grown food. What does this mean exactly and why is it important to consider these options for both human and environmental health? The standard produce you buy, more often than not, relies on heavy use of fertilizers and insecticides, which causes great harm to our rivers and streams, including the Mississippi River. Sustainable farmers make an effort to reduce these harmful products whenever possible. Supporting sustainable farming practices by choosing to purchase food grown without these harmful fertilizers and pesticides helps keep our soils healthy. It also keeps pollution out of the Mississippi River. Sustainable food is better for human health, too. If you have not had the time to stop by one of your local farmers markets to buy fresh produce – you are missing out! The taste and quality of the food is incomparable to anything else.

Fresh produce I purchased at a Memphis farmers market last summer.

Below is a quick rundown of four of my favorite local farms the Memphis area:

  1. Roots Memphis Roots Memphis is more than just a farm it is also a “Farm Academy” teaching students to become clean and ethical farmers. They are certified Naturally Grown and chemical – free. You can catch Roots Memphis at the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market and Memphis Farmers Market in downtown Memphis. They also have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) sign up where you can get weekly produce throughout the growing season.
  2. Girls Inc. Youth Farm Girls Inc. is a large program in the Memphis area to help girls grow up to be healthy, educated and independent. They have a 9.5-acre farm in Frayser and these girls learn to grow, harvest, and sell produce. You can find them at the Memphis Farmer’s Market.
  3. Windermere Farms and Apiaries Windermere Farms is certified organic and sells at the Agricenter Farmers Market on Saturdays. During the summer, you can go and pick your own blueberries! You can join their CSA by going to their website!
  4. Jones Orchard Jones Orchard was started in the 1940s as a peach farm and has grown into a local farming powerhouse. They now farm all sorts of fruits and vegetables. They sell at almost every Farmers Market in the city including the Agricenter, Cooper-Young and Memphis Farmers Markets. You can also visit the farm to hand pick your produce or stop by one of their stands. They even have a café and market on their grounds.

And here is a list of my favorite farmers markets:

  1. Memphis Farmers Market The Memphis Farmers Market takes place in the old central train station in downtown Memphis where S. Front Street intersects with GE Patterson. The market is open only on Saturdays in April through November (rain or shine). You can find a large number of local farmers and local vendors here. They also have live music and fun activities for the kids.
  2. Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market The Cooper-Young Farmers Market is magical just like the neighborhood it resides in. They are located inside the parking lot of First Congo on South Cooper. There are many local farmers and local artesian vendors. Extremely kid and dog friendly makes this market feel like family. They always have live music and everyone is always having a goodtime!
  3. Agricenter Farmers Market The Agricenter’s Farmer Market is actually the longest running seasonal market in Tennessee. Located inside the red barn on the Agricenter International property, the market is open Monday through Saturday weekly during peak season May – October. You will find a variety of farmers and local vendors.
  4. Overton Park Farmers Market This is another neighborhood farmers market inside Overton Park, which is centrally located. It is only open on Thursday afternoons April – October but it is special because they accept SNAP/EBT benefits, which provide access to affordable, locally- grown and healthy produce to families in need.

These are just a few of my favorite farms and farmer’s markets. Visit this website to find out more about local farms, CSAs, and farmers markets in Memphis and Mid-South area. Every action, both big and small, can help our mighty River.

In a couple of months, farmers will be selling produce at farmers markets. I want to know about the sustainable farms and farmers markets in your area. Please E-mail me at TN1Mississippi@bluestemcommunications.org to let me know!

If you want to learn more about sustainable agriculture, please visit our website at 1mississippi.org. If you’re not yet a 1 Mississippi River Citizen, you can sign up here.

Jessie Demster

TN/KY 1 Mississippi Outreach Assistant