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Saturday mornings at the Farmers Market

Saturday morning - most of Oxford is still huddled under their covers, resting after late Friday nights and weeks full of economics exams, long history lectures and dozens of club meetings. Campus is empty except for a few ambitious students trudging with their backpacks to King for the day, or a few pairs of weary feet just now making the trek back home.

Some of us, though, leave the comfort of our beds on early Saturday mornings for a different reason - for gallons of fresh-pressed cider, for bundles of dahlias and sunflowers, for hot cups of coffee, for bright red tomatoes, for loaves of sweet pumpkin bread, for dozens of dogs pulling at their owners' leashes, for the smiling people who stand under their tents every Saturday morning to make a sale at the Oxford Farmers Market.

From May through November, over 40 vendors set up tents and tables in a parking lot behind Uptown Park until noon, selling their fresh produce, baked goods or other handmade items to Oxford locals and Miami students. Even from December through April, vendors brave the cold every third Saturday of the month to set up shop at the market.

"I enjoy it very much," said Marvin Hurston.

He can be found every week at his table with a chalkboard reading "Just Like Mom's" propped in front, selling homemade pies, breads, cookies and other baked goods.

"I enjoy the people here. We have a great time."

His wife, Norma, Hurston reminds everyone, is the one who makes all the sweets. He just sells them.

"After she got sick, I started coming here and selling," said Hurston. "Norma made everything that's on this table."

Having been on the Oxford Fire Department and Life Squad for 20 years, a member of the city planning committee for 10 and a farmers market frequent for a length of time that even Hurston can't quite remember, he spends much of his time at the market greeting familiar faces.

"The farmers market is a great way to start my Saturdays," said junior Jenny Tassaro, an RA in Tappan Hall, who likes to bring some of her residents to the market on weekends. "I get to escape campus life for a bit and find fresh, locally grown produce there that isn't available on campus."

One of Tassaro's favorite stands is Fresh Expressions, a new addition to the farmers market.

Prompted by her own struggles with food allergies and an autoimmune disorder, Heidi Mulsoff started the small business to provide customers with healthy, natural juices and smoothies. Mulsoff presses carrots, apples, kale and other organic produce through a juicer, making all of the juices to-order right there at the Fresh Expressions tent.

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"I love that they make the juice and smoothies right in front of you so you know exactly what goes into your drink," Tassaro said.

On the other end of the market, Kristi Hutchinson, selling certified organic fruits and produce, stands under a sign with the name "5 Oaks Organics." Hutchinson has been a vendor at the farmers market for about seven years but has only been selling under the 5 Oaks name for three.

Having lived on farms throughout her entire life, she has always wanted to try growing her own vegetables.

"The women in my family don't farm, though," Hutchinson laughed. "It's just me."

Now, she manages a nine-and-a-half acre farm entirely on her own. It's been even harder work than she thought it would be, she said, but she thinks it's worth it.

Taft Marsh, a botany major and Oxford native, likes to experiment with the produce he grows and sells for Urban Greens. John Malan, who closed the shop where he used to sell his jewelry Uptown, now sets up a table with handmade beaded bracelets and metal pendant necklaces at the market. Robert Kabakoff sells potatoes, beets and squash alongside handmade walking sticks which he describes in detail to anyone who stops by his tent.

Every stand offers a different selection, a different story.

Sophomore Katie Byrnes has been a frequent visitor to the farmers market since she discovered it with a few of her friends during the first month of her freshman year. A bag of apples tucked into her arm, she talked about why she keeps coming back.

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