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OKG Newsletter


Food and Drink Features
 

To market


Get fresh at these local markets that bring together farmers, ranchers, bakers and crafters.

Jenny Coon Peterson July 20th, 2011

Every Saturday, Crestview Farms of Arcadia packs up its produce, herbs and fruits and trucks down to the OSU-OKC Farmers’ Market.

Owner Susan Graff has run the family farm since 1997, and she’s been participating in the OSU-OKC Farmers’ Market for most of those years.

“You get to meet the farmer, and you know where everything is grown,” she said of farmers’ markets. “In meeting the farmer, you can talk to them about how their product is grown.”

For her, that means being able to tell customers that Crestview is certified organic, a rigorous certification she achieved in 2003.

“We use no chemicals out here at all; it’s all biological and (integrated pest management), which is using predatory insects to manage (nuisance insects),” she said.

Although drought and heat have affected her 26-acre farm — something that is plaguing farmers all across Oklahoma — Graff said you can still find Crestview set up every weekend at the OSU-OKC market.

“We start out with greens, then we go into the warm-weather crops: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers and squash.”

If you visit this weekend, you may find lettuce, potatoes, onions, garlic and shallots, along with some herbs.

The OSU-OKC Farmers’ Market, 400 N. Portland, has been connecting farmers, bakers and crafters with shoppers since the early 1990s, according to Cheryl Camp, market manager. On average, there are 36 to 40 vendors at the market each Saturday, and it is best to shop early.

“We usually have lines starting at 7:30 at the various vendor’s tables,” Camp said. “The most desired items can go really quickly, especially now when we’re struggling with the heat and the drought.”

Right now, shoppers can expect summer vegetables — like potatoes, green beans and all kinds of squash — along with some watermelon and cantaloupe. And being in front of the farmer that grew that squash has loads of benefits, Camp said.

“You can ask questions of the individual vendors on how best to cook some of the things you see,” she said. “There are all kinds of items that a lot of people shy away from because they simply don’t know how to cook them.”

Besides the standard fruits and veggies, shoppers can find meat, cheese, eggs, nuts, artisan breads and bakery items, along with crafts like woven baskets and soaps.

Variety is also key at the Edmond Farmers’ Market, W. First Street and Broadway, which usually has between 40 and 45 vendors each Saturday.

“We have a great mix of items,” said Diane Self, with the Edmond Parks Department. The market has been going for more than 10 years, but the City of Edmond took it over about six years ago. On top of produce, Self said to look for flowers, soap, honey, meat, reusable bags, prepared foods and baked goods, as well as crafts.

“Our variety makes us one of the largest markets in the state,” she said.

For Matt Burch, who runs Urban Agrarian, getting into farmers’ markets was a gradual process. He worked in food in college and moved to Georgia to work on a farm, where he learned more about direct farm marketing. When he moved back to Oklahoma in 2007, he got involved with the Oklahoma Food Co-op and realized there was more distribution and aggregation needed.

From there, Urban Agrarian was born. Produce became the concentration, and besides delivering local food to area restaurants, Burch participates in the Edmond Farmers’ Market and coordinates two others.

One of those is his Sunday market outside of Cheever’s, 401 N.W. 23rd, which Burch runs year-round. During the summer, look for blueberries, corn, squash, garlic, onion, potatoes and herbs.

“We get a lot of foot traffic from the neighborhood, and we get some of the spillover from (brunch),” Burch said. “We really do have a lot of regular customers that use us as their first stop before the grocery store. We have a lot of folks that I see almost every Sunday.”

The MidTown Market at Saints, now in its second year, grew out of the Sunday market. “(The hospital) … called me and said, ‘Would you be interested in doing a really similar concept?’” he said.

At the MidTown Market at St. Anthony, it’s not just Urban Agrarian and farmers selling produce, but also nonprofit fundraisers, info booths and sometimes even local restaurants like Big Truck Tacos and Pops. It gives the market an almost fair-like environment.

“Since we’re open until 6, we set it up to where anyone leaving work in the downtown area could come through on a Friday and purchase some local food for the weekend,” Burch said.

Convenience is also behind the OSU-OKC Wednesday market, N.W. 63rd and Western, which is in its third year being hosted by Chesapeake Energy. The market attracts not only Chesapeake employees, but also people from the surrounding neighborhoods.

“It’s been an extraordinary experience to be sponsored at another location off-campus, so we can do a little outreach to other areas and the people who can’t get there on Saturdays,” Camp said.

Outreach, Camp said, helps Oklahomans make better food choices.

“Once you compare, for instance, a peach that is grown locally and has just been picked, compared to a peach at the grocery store, there is just such a difference in the taste,” she said. “It’s just healthier to eat fresher foods and know how it was grown.”


Market action

Edmond Farmers’ Market 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday

Guthrie Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market 8 a.m.-noon Saturday

MidTown Market at Saints 1-6 p.m. Friday

Midwest City Farmers’ Market 4:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday

Norman Farmers’ Market 8 a.m.-noon Wednesday and Saturday

Old Town Moore Farmers’ Market 4-7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m.-noon Saturday

OSU-OKC Wednesday Market 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday

OSU-OKC Saturday Market 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday

Urban Agrarian Sunday Market 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday

 
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