A Corinth woman parlays gardening into aesthetically pleasing vegetable boxes.
Written by Eileen Bailey | Photographed by Joe Worthem
Getting fresh vegetables grown by Mai (pronounced My) Fair is like a gift to all the senses.
Each box of vegetables and flowers is a testament to Fair’s artistic eye and her love for making people smile. She personally puts together each box, making sure it’s not only filled with good, healthy vegetables grown in her own Corinth garden, but also that the vegetables are arranged with care to give the buyer or recipient a colorful palette in the hopes of making them happy.
From April and May in the spring well into the late fall, Fair offers a variety of produce and flowers she grows in a plot in her front yard and on the property she purchased to expand her growing business. Fair, 48, started her business, Mai-ghty Fresh Vegetables, six years ago as a way to provide affordable choices for fresh produce and as a way to de-stress.
Long before she began her business, Fair developed a love for working the land, thanks to her parents, Artley and Johnny Conner.
Fair said her dad loved to grow asparagus, strawberries, peaches, blueberries and a variety of vegetables. He even ordered a greenhouse but never got the chance to add a garden. Fair fondly remembers those times with her parents, who adopted her when she was young. In 1980, at the age of 7, Fair made her way from her war-torn country of Vietnam to America. Her biological father died when she was 1, and her mother died when she was 4.
Her grandmother took care of Fair until her uncle and his wife helped bring her to Corinth, where the members of Tate Baptist Church sponsored them. Later, the Conners adopted Fair. Fifteen years after she moved to America, Fair’s older sister moved to this country and lives in Louisiana.
After graduating from high school, Fair attended Northeast Mississippi Community College and the University of Mississippi, before returning home to live. Later, she married and eventually became a mom. After her marriage ended in divorce, Fair said she remembers some difficult days for her and her two children — a daughter, now 13, and a son, now 17. She realized she needed something to help make ends meet.
Fair, who works with the Mississippi Department of Health full time, said that in the past 20 years, working in the garden has been an important part of her life. The petite and bubbly gardener said that her business has become more than a way to make money — it has offered her a way to bring joy to the lives of the people who purchase her boxes, which range in price from $10 to $40.
“I have one customer, Ginger Stockton, who owns Ginger’s, a clothing and gift store in Corinth, who said, ‘Your presentation is tops,’” Fair said. “I make each box with love. I take time to coordinate and organize the vegetables and even add zinnias or sunflowers.”
Whatever is in season can be found in Fair’s custom-designed vegetable boxes. Cherry tomatoes and large slicing tomatoes in varying shades of red. Yellow, red and green peppers. Cucumbers, okra, ears of corn, peas, beans and squash. Pole beans are her favorite thing to grow.
In addition to selling her boxes to the community, Fair has been known to take them on vacation with her so she can experience the freshness of the veggies on the road.
She has also partnered with Linda Thrasher, who doesn’t grow vegetables, but helps Fair by canning any produce that needs to be put away for later use.
Fair loves to hunt and fish as a hobby. Laughing, she said the sale of her vegetables helps to pay for those hobbies, including the hunting trips she plans to take during the year.
But the produce grown in her garden is more than a money-maker. Fair also likes to give back. Each fall she takes some of the pumpkins she grows in conjunction with Potts Pumpkin Farm and carves and paints them pink in honor of those who are fighting breast cancer. She delivers them free of charge to anyone interested.
For more information about Mai-ghty Fresh Vegetables and to see what’s growing in Fair’s garden, search “Mai-ghty Fresh Veggies” on Facebook.