The deep South is renowned for its delectable cuisine – especially in the fall, when shared meals at tables crowded with homemade casseroles, fresh vegetables, fluffy cornbread and from-scratch pies are highly anticipated rituals each year. As farm-to-table has become the norm and farmers markets have a growing presence in communities throughout Mississippi, households and restaurants are increasingly sourcing their produce locally, ensuring those fall comfort meals are not only made with the freshest ingredients around, but that those meals are generating healthier, more vibrant communities.
In Jackson, Ecoshed, a mixed-use incubator space, is taking full advantage of the area’s abundant resources and landscape. Ecoshed is a home base for a number of events and entrepreneurs, and it exhibits green infrastructure, such as urban farming, in an industrial setting. One tenant of Ecoshed is Fertile Ground Farms, a regenerative organic farm focusing on research and educating the community on food production. Fertile Ground works alongside local – very local, actually – restaurants to provide them with fresh, seasonal produce to use in their signature, Southern dishes. Fertile Ground is a hyper-local farm, meaning it only sell its produce within a three-mile radius. The mindset behind the practice is to invest in the immediate area, providing produce to nearby residents and restaurants that are located in what is otherwise known as a “food desert.”
Jackson eateries like Elvie’s Restaurant, Coffee Prose and Mama Nature’s Juice Bar regularly highlight produce from Fertile Ground Farms, as well as a host of other farms local to Mississippi. During the summer, Fertile Ground’s business booms with sales of summer staples like sweet strawberries, but as the leaves change, so does the produce. Fertile Ground’s squash, tomatoes, radishes, turnips, collards, spinach and spring mix will be the hit of many dishes in restaurants throughout the metro Jackson area each fall.
Elvie’s, for example, is a French-inspired all-day café that focuses heavily on Southern cuisine, organic produce and sustainably raised animals. Not only does Elvie’s support Fertile Ground Farms, the restaurant also calls on other farms throughout the state to prepare its mouthwatering menu. Two Dog Farms, Homeplace Pastures and French Hermit Oyster Co. of Biloxi are all instrumental in ensuring Jackson’s newest, must-eat restaurant serves only the best seasonal fare while tipping its hat to Mississippi’s farmers.
Farm-to-table in Mississippi, as with any state, supports local farmers and brings communities and families together. And local, iconic Jackson restaurants – central to the story of Jackson – call on these farmers to deliver only the freshest and tastiest cuisine to your table. Mississippi is an agriculture-rich state, from its crops of soybeans and tomatoes, rice and radishes, to some of the best seafood in the country on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Whatever your taste, the fresh flavors and natural ingredients in Mississippi’s signature dishes will leave you craving seconds – each and every time.