Farm fresh produce has a new home in Fondren. Doris Berry, an area staple for 63 years at the old Central Farmers Market off West Street, will sign a lease today on the old Mimi’s Family & Friends at 3139 North State Street. With an urban market concept, Berry will operate there and continue to run the West Street location. She said on Saturday that they will sign a two year lease with property owner Jefferson Carter, Jr. to continue her family run business in a more highly trafficked area.
The new location will be up and running quickly. Berry said they’re going to be ready to operate this week. “It may take us a few days to get it straightened out, but we’ll be there.” She’s looking forward to the chance to be amongst other shops and activity. “I’ve been tied down over here 63 years.” Berry said. With enough family for two locations, they will rotate around.
Fondren Renaissance Foundation (FRF) was instrumental in helping Berry with the move. Executive Director Jim Wilkirson explained: “We assisted in a slight change in the makeup of their business so they fit into the urban planning code passed for the historic district of Fondren a couple of years ago.”
Wilkirson said the business will not be a produce stand in the traditional sense. “They will have a retail selection of products like honey, jams, salad dressings and such, in addition to fresh produce.” He also hopes to see fall pumpkins, a seafood vendor and Christmas trees. “This location allows her to do that in one space. They’re an amazing, first class business that has highlighted farming in Mississippi.” The space will fill a void that’s been missing in the neighborhood for some time, he said. “We haven’t had a potted plant dealer since Barnes Brothers, so, frankly, I’m happy about that, too.”
And Berry is happy to add a location in the thriving and growing business district. “I love it. It’s a fun little place,” Berry said. She told us this process has been made smoother by people like Wilkirson, FRF assistant director Mary Jo McAnally and longtime fan and friend Jill Conner Browne. “The possibility of losing her (Berry) in the area was huge negative,” Wilkirson explained. “If we lose things in the city, we generally don’t get them back. Doris Berry is necessary for the further development of Fondren.” Wilkirson says with potential UMC developments on the land where Berry’s market currently operates, it runs the risk of Berry packing up and going home to Simpson County. “We don’t want to lose the momentum,” he said. “She’s staying in Jackson – and we’re ecstatic it’s Fondren.”
Berry told us the Central Farmers Market itself was in its infancy when she planted roots. “This market was two years old when we came here,” she said. “My husband came over the Woodrow Wilson bridge, saw a lot of activity, and came to see what it was. We’ve been here since.” Berry said she doesn’t know anything else. “We’re farmers. That’s what we’ve always done.”