HERNANDO, MS (abc24.com) - A few years ago Hernando started a small weekend farmer's market. The goal was to make healthy food more available. It's now one of the country's best.
"We need all of it we can get," says Suzanne Stephens. "The more fresh food, without all the preservatives, the better for kids."
"There is so much trouble trying to find local food, it's just almost impossible," says Hernando Mayor Chip Johnson.
Hernando has made it easy. Every Saturday from May to October, the courthouse lawn is packed with produce, all locally grown.
"We jury these people so we know where they're coming from," Johnson says. "They grow it, bring it in and sell it."
The market started five years ago with 18 vendors. Now there are 120 on the list. Mayor Johnson says almost a thousand people show up each weekend.
"It's almost like a family reunion every Saturday. They're lined up at some of the booths," he says.
The market's popularity is boosted by a top ten ranking. It's number seven in the country, according to a vote by American Farmland Trust. Hernando's farmer's market is also Mississippi's favorite. Johnson believes it's because there's a variety of vendors. He says you can buy almost anything, even milk from a local dairy farm.
"He milks the cows on Thursday, pasteurizes the milk on Friday, and it's at our market Saturday morning by nine."
"I want to know who's food I'm eating. It just feels good when you know the food you're eating came from somebody you trust."
The market is every Saturday from 8am to 1pm.