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This week at the Community Market

August 19, 2010

Saturday’s edition of the Starkville Community Market will mark the second to last market of the season.
The Market will be closing its doors for the summer season after Aug. 28. The Market will be open from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the corner of Jackson and Lampkin streets.
While stocking up on all the great produce, baked goods, and more this Saturday, market organizers encourage patrons sure to meet this week’s spotlight vendor, Erin Scanlon.
She grows and makes all her goods at her home in the Oktoc community and has aptly named her business Oktoc Treasures. Here are her answers to the spotlight questions:

How/why did you get involved with Starkville Community Market?

Scanlon: “For years I wished there was an outlet for the surplus produce from my garden and the wild native pecan trees on my property.
“The taste of a home-grown tomato or native pecan just can’t be beat, and I wanted to share this experience with those who have never had a chance to enjoy these simple pleasures.”
Why should people buy from local and sustainable producers?

Scanlon: “There are obvious contributions the Community Market makes to sustainable living and a healthier diet, but last night I was thinking about another aspect of the Market, and that’s how it connects us with centuries-old tradition.
“If you travel around Europe, you will find nearly every town or city has a square where everyone met to trade, socialize, and exchange valuable news and information. It was an opportunity for people from all walks of life, both rich and poor, country folk and city dwellers, to associate freely.
“As I watch the parade of people who pass through our market each Saturday, I can’t help but feel that our Market is not just satisfying their need for fresh produce and beautiful handcrafts, but also helps maintain and expand our sense of community.
“It takes the full support of the community to keep the Market going, but in turn, the Market contributes to Starkville’s image as being progressive, while staying in touch with its rich tradition.”

What is your most popular product at the Market?

Scanlon: “I have always offered an eclectic mix I jokingly refer to as the Four P’s — produce, plants, pecans, and pearls. It’s hard to pick the most popular, because one week my potted house plants and herbs will go especially fast, other times it’s my pecans and produce.
“I usually sell out of my produce, because I grow it in limited quantities. I raise those vegetable varieties known more for their flavor than ease of cultivation, and instead of using pesticides, insects are picked off by hand. It’s very labor intensive. I always do well with my jewelry.
“In keeping with the spirit of sustainability, my jewelry is all restored, recycled, recreated and reused. One of the joys of being a vendor here is the number of friends who stop every week to visit with me and check out what’s new. I love to see a piece I fabricated out of vintage parts become repurposed by one of my ‘regulars.’”

Do you have any special products in the next two weeks that you’d like to highlight?

Scanlon: “I just started bringing okra to the Market and its going strong right now. Neither the extreme heat nor drought seems to have discouraged it. I know okra is hard to find in the stores, so I know mine will go fast this Saturday.”

What’s one thing Starkville Community Market customers don’t know?

Scanlon: “After retiring from the Starkville School District, I enrolled at the master’s degree program in history at Mississippi State. While working on that, I continue to be involved in various restoration projects on my antebellum home, which I have owned since 1991.”

What are your future plans?

Scanlon: “I have been successful with my current mix of offerings, but next year I hope to plant more early spring vegetable varieties. I will continue to experiment with different kinds of potted plants, and will spend a good part of the winter beading bracelets.
“I will concentrate on jewelry for little girls, because they have so much fun trying on everything at my tables before making a selection.”

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Scanlon: “I’m a vegetarian, and I enjoy eating any kind of fresh produce. I’m especially fond of spicy foods, so I use a lot of hot peppers. I love pasta, and they say that the test of a good Italian cook is the quality of their marinara sauce.
“This is a meatless spaghetti sauce made of red, ripe tomatoes and just the right combination of herbs and spices. I grow sweet basil, rosemary and thyme to put in mine.”
For more information on the Market, make sure to visit the website at http://www.starkvillecommunitymarket.org or become a friend on Facebook.

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