Pride of the Pine Belt: Downtown Hattiesburg Farmer's Market

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - If you go to the Town Square Park in Downtown Hattiesburg on Thursday afternoons , the first thing you will notice is a small gathering of people under scarce shade. Then you'll notice something else.

"Purple bell pepper, red bell pepper, green bell pepper and banana pepper," said Vendor Jeannette Fulmer.

"Five pound leg of lamb. This is a lamb steak," said Vendor, Morris Richardson.

These vendors say anything from vegetables and fruits right off the vine, to freshly baked cinnamon buns for man's best friend can be found at the Downtown Hattiesburg Farmer's Market.

"The purpose of our farmer's market is to bring in local food, to provide a place where people can come and be a part of the community, they know where their food is coming from," said Downtown Hattiesburg Farmer's Market Manager, Anna Cagle.

Cagle says the advantage to the market is access to the farmer's who are tending to the product from planting to picking.

"The food that you buy in a big super market travels so far, and before it even hits the shelves it's out of the ground for two weeks. A lot of times these people are bringing stuff that they grew, and picked that day," said Cagle.

Fulmer General Store Owner, Jeannette Fulmer agrees. She brings everything from vegetables, herbs, pickled goods, to fresh bread to the market every Thursday.

"See ours is not grown with any chemicals or bug sprays, and all that kind of stuff. So, it's natural. What you are eating just came out of the field this morning. It didn't come from California. It came from Richton. That makes a lot of difference in the taste," said Fulmer.

Morris Richardson, Owner of G&M Goat Farm, says the price of his products won't leave a bad taste in customers mouths. He sales goat cheeses, lamb meat,  goat meat  and goat milk based products.

"The prices are very reasonable compared to what you buy in the stores. I don't think that you could find, for the quality of the products, the price is very reasonable," said Richardson.

And if you want a second opinion from a customer just ask owner of Walnut Circle Grill, Mike McElroy.

"We have a tapas night at the restaurant, so we come over here and get a few things at the local farmer's market to take over at the restaurant. We come up with some simple dishes just using fresh ingredients," said McElroy.

After picking up okra, goat cheese, thyme, tomatoes and honey, McElroy prepares fried okra stuff with goat cheese.

And if you ask Fulmer why she and her family endure the manual labor of planting, picking and loading their products to come to this market, she says the answer is simple.

"This is living. This is what it is all about. This is fun," said Fulmer.