VARDAMAN, Miss. (WCBI)-The sweet potato capitol of Mississippi shows off their best harvest to economic developers. Vardaman may seem small with a population close to 1,200, but there is one thing that brings visitors from out of town. Sweet potatoes. That’s why economic developers want to help this community advance their beloved crop.
“We have Appalachian Regional Commission coming in town we are just going to kind of give them a show me trip,” says Sheila Freely.
The first stop on the tour is the Sweet Potato Sweet Shop where they make a variety of healthy desserts out of Vardaman’s most popular potato.
“Sweet Potatoes can be done in numerous of ways more than just baking. A lot of people think you just have to bake sweet potatoes. We use Splenda in everything we do sugar free and we have a several items that are sugar free,” says Gayle Stafford.
Through small towns like Vardaman, Earl Gohl, from the federal ARC, is also trying to promote healthier living.
“Local foods are healthier food and that it is fresher. It’s more nutritious and what we have seen is that by organized and by focusing on local community assets you can bring more of the local fresh food into the market place,” says Earl Gohl.
With more than 30 years of experience in the sweet potato industry, Randle Wright hopes the special visitors see how local businesses impact the economy.
“We are a thriving business in this area not just this facility but all facilities here together and contribute to the economic of this area,” says Randle Wright.
Mississippi is the second largest producer of sweet potatoes in the United States.