By: Jessica Bays
The eight ball zucchini is a hybrid variety of zucchini squash that has become popular over the last several years. It’s round, softball size and shape, make it ideal for stuffing, but like any other zucchini it can be steamed, baked, grilled, or roasted, and perhaps even fried.
The owner of the unique looking zucchini, Don Autry of D&G Farm in Wren, Miss. said he was approached by a man who wanted to know if the zucchini could be deep fried, and two women who wanted to use the zucchini to make a base for pizza crust.
Though he had never heard of using the zucchini in either way, it opened up a different path of looking at how the Starkville Community Market helps to bring the local community together, whether through sharing recipes, or learning about different produce and baked goods.
The Starkville Community Market, which is in its fourth year running, has been run by volunteers up until this year. It has now found a new home with Starkville Main Street, which is a division of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership.
Autry, who is one of the original farmers that have been with the market since the beginning, is happy about the new partnership.
“One advantage of the Main Street Association taking over is promoting when the market is being held, which is helping us to have more contacts,” said Autry. “They’re really turning it into a family oriented market to where people want to come and spend their Saturday mornings eating healthy food and participating in kids’ activities.”
The market is not just any regular farmer’s market. They not only accept vendors for produce, but artisans and baked goods as well. In addition, it has planned cooking and gardening demonstrations, how-to sessions and kids’ activities to make each Saturday at the Market a fun family affair.
Jennifer Prather, special events and projects coordinator for the market, said that before the GSDP came along, there were some challenges with managing the market.
“One thing that affected us in the past is that we did not have the huge resource of having advertising and marketing and the ability to have a sole person focus on the market,” Prather said. “But by the GSDP taking it on, we’re able to focus our full summer market budget on the market as well as having a full time employee.”
In addition to the market’s new partnership with the GSDP and Starkville Main Street, vendors said that community support has also helped the market to thrive.
Sandra Miller with the Tomato House in Macon, Miss. said that due to the community’s support of the market they have gotten more traffic and sales, which is one thing they like a lot about the market.
“We’ve been to community markets where the community didn’t support it well,” said Miller. “Starkville does a very good job of supporting the market. It’s just a nice place. We appreciate the outpouring of local support. It’s encouraging to a vendor.”
Prather said that the market is not just a way to support local business in the community and to offer an opportunity for the city of Starkville to buy local, but it is a way for people to come together and have a good time.
“Every week the community comes out to support the market and it’s a great way for us to add to the quality of life in Starkville,” said Prather. “It’s not only about buying and selling goods, but also about the interaction of the community with one another and the spirit to gather and socialize and build relationships with one another.”
The Starkville Community Market meets Saturdays from May through August from 7:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. To volunteer visit https://orgsync.com/56996/opportunities/556631?date=2013-06-15. For more volunteer opportunities with the Maroon Volunteer Center visit http://www.mvc.msstate.edu.