Farmers and kitchen artisans ready to bring fresh goodness to the Downtown Madison Farmers Market will meet on April 19.

Growers and producers - both returning vendors and newcomers considering joining the market -- are invited to the 10 a.m. meeting at Madison Square Center for the Arts. The growers meeting offers the opportunity to make application and get ready for the market's third season of Tasty Tuesdays.

Veteran merchants, as well as new ones, must submit an application for the upcoming market that is held on Main Street by the Red Caboose. The market is scheduled to open May 17 and continue each Tuesday through September on the grounds of the arts center. Vendors do not pay a fee to be part of the market. Hours of operation will be 3-6 p.m. this season.

The 2016 market continues its tradition of selling only Mississippi-grown or created products, said Robin McCrory, Madison's director of business and downtown development. "We are a certified farmers market by the Mississippi Department of Agriculture."

The market will feature a dairy vendor this season, McCrory said. "We are always on the lookout for new vendors and encourage anyone interested in participating to attend our April meeting."

For customers, the Downtown Madison Farmers Market has proven to be a ready source of locally grown, nutritious fruits and vegetables.

Vendors include local gardeners selling the abundance from their backyard plots and those who farm for a living and want a market close to home. Home-based entrepreneurs find the market to be a convenient outlet to sell their rolls, cakes, cookies, jellies, pickles and honey.

"Remington-Lott Farms was blessed to have the opportunity to introduce our local free-range beef at the Downtown Madison Farmers Market last year," said Christy Eaves with the Canton-based cattle farm. "The Madison community welcomed us to the market every week and those neighbors turned into loyal customers.

"We are excited to be a part of the market once again, as we share our Madison County beef with new friends, as well as, introduce a few new items to the public," she said.

Jody Reyer of Reyer Farms in Leake County said he is looking forward to his third season at the Downtown Madison Farmers Market selling his pork and beef cuts and a variety of vegetables that are in season.

"The Madison shoppers are very gracious and we enjoy serving them. As a business it is very nice to sell at markets that have good traffic and an engaged customer base that is shopping to buy," he said.

"Many Madison shoppers come to the market with intent and purpose to find certain goods and are interested in the opportunity that a local market offers. We expect to continue to serve our Madison customers and meet new folks," Reyer said. "God has blessed us with the opportunity to grow good food for families and we want to exceed every expectation."

A successful market relies on dependable, quality vendors like the ones coming for the past two seasons, McCrory said. All vendors are knowledgeable about their products.

"With so much focus on health and health awareness, a local farmers market is a customer's best way of knowing where food comes from and how it was grown," she said. "Most of the produce on sale each Tuesday afternoon was picked fresh earlier that same day.

"That's a far better option than a product on a shelf where you don't know how long it's been sitting there and that effect on nutritional values," McCrory said.

During the four-month run of the market, customers will find fresh in-season produce and other specialty foods. Beef, pork, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupes, peaches, eggplants, squashes, lettuces, blueberries, blackberries, okra, beans, cucumbers, and shrimp will likely be among the weekly offerings throughout the summer. Other vendors will bring fresh eggs, milk, honey, flowers, and specialty homemade goods like preserves, pickles, dog treats, cakes, breads, cookies, jams and jellies.

Vendors interested in becoming a part of Madison's market need to contact McCrory at (601) 941-8392 if they cannot attend the April 19 meeting.