Farmers markets stepping into digital age - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Farmers markets stepping into digital age

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

From the farm to the table, it doesn't get much fresher than Mississippi's farmers markets and the business side of it is anything but stale.  

"Agriculture is our largest industry here in the state and there are more and more people that are getting into fruits and vegetable production,"said Paige Manning with the Department of Agriculture.

Manning says farmers markets in Mississippi are cropping up quickly, which yields a new challenge, bringing home grown tomatoes into the digital age with social media.  

"This will really let them know, hey, I can use these things for my market and promote my market and engage with my costumers and my vendors as well," said Manning.

To understand how it's done, folks from across the state involved or interested in starting farmers markets are learning the best ways to tweet a turnip or Facebook a fig.  

"One of the best ways and one of the most cost effective ways to communicate that information is using social media," said Will Scarborough, who manages the Mississippi Farmers Market in downtown Jackson.

While there may not be an app for that yet, Scarborough says social media is a valuable resource in reaching a larger customer base, especially for smaller markets.  

"It doesn't cost you anything to have a Facebook page for your business," said Scarborough.

The push for social savvy squash comes as more markets call Mississippi home.  

"We're seeing a large growth and boom all over the state," said Manning.

Manning says ten years ago, Mississippi had about 20 markets. Now there's just more than 60, with even more expressing an interest in opening up. That falls right in line with a national trend to buy local.  

"I think that's driven by a customer's concern for their food, where their food comes from," said Scarborough.

Only at a farmers market, Scarborough says, can someone get face to face with the grower who brought it there.

Agriculture is a seven billion dollar a year industry in Mississippi with nearly 42,000 farms covering 11 million acres.

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