From fresh produce to local honey, grass-fed beef to baked goods, today’s farmers markets offer great options for healthy eating—no matter your schedule or budget. These weekly markets, found in communities including Edmond, Norman, Oklahoma City and Moore, also serve as social centers of the community, bringing farmers and consumers together.
“I never dreamed in a million years that I would be operating a farmers market,” explains Diane Self, recreation program manager with the City of Edmond. “But now I can’t imagine living without it. It’s a very social environment. You get to meet the people that are selling you the food. Market vendors are very proud of their products and the time and hard-earned money they spend producing it. It’s like you are shopping from your family.”
For Diane, it is this family-friendly atmosphere that makes shopping at a farmers market such a special experience. “Farmers markets make it possible to teach children about healthy eating and fresh food. It’s a chance to show them how something that is fresh can taste so much better,” she recalls. “Going to the farmers market is actually time you spend with your family and you don’t get that at the grocery store. It’s important for kids to know who grew their food.”
In addition to giving children first-hand access to local farmers and other producers, farmers markets offer many other benefits. The produce sold in the markets is often picked within 24 hours of selling, so it maintains higher nutritional content and can often be sold with less handling and packaging. Buying from local farmers also helps keep money in the community and reduces pollution and waste caused by shipping food long distances. And as many loyal customers will attest, freshly picked, locally grown food simply tastes better, offers better variety and is healthier.
Ready to take your family on a food adventure? Here are four local farmers markets to explore this season.
OSU-OKC Farmers Market
The OSU-OKC Farmers Market (400 N. Portland, www.osuokc.edu/farmersmarket) offers 100 percent Oklahoma-grown produce in a year-round market setting. “We are all about keeping it local and helping the vendors,” explains Heather Kay, OSU-OKC’s assistant vice president of business and industry training & economic development. “Our vendors offer fresh produce year-round, whether it is seasonal or grown in a greenhouse. We also have a number of 100 percent organic growers.”
In addition to produce, the OSU-OKC market In addition to produce, OSU/OKC Market offers a variety of handmade items, including baskets, soaps, lotions, local honey, eggs, pecans, dog treats and baked goods.
“It’s incredible to see families getting their kids involved and teaching them that food doesn’t just come from the grocery store,” Heather explains. “It’s so valuable for kids to get to learn directly from the farmers.”
Market hours vary throughout the year, but the market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday during the summer season. The market is located in an indoor pavilion, providing shelter from the wind and heat during the summer months. The market also offers special events throughout the season.
“We have local musicians come out and play every month, plus a lecture series on gardening and more,” Heather adds. “And you won’t want to miss our baked goods. We feature some really good scones. They are the best!”
Edmond Farmers Market
The Edmond Farmers Market (26 W. 1st, Edmond; www.edmondok.org) opens each spring and summer at Festival Market Place in downtown Edmond and Diane Self says that the local produce is most plentiful beginning in June. The market is held outdoors under a pavilion, so rainy weather doesn’t keep the marketing from happening. The market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. through October.
In addition to local farmers with fresh produce, the Edmond Market also features local food manufacturers. “This includes baked goods, wine, honey, salsa, jams, jellies, spice mixes, pastas, teas, eggs, beef and blended cheeses,” she explains. “It’s all great stuff without lots of preservatives. And it’s nice when you know exactly who is making what you are eating.”
Moore Farmers Market
The Moore Farmers Market is held on the south side of the Moore Community Center (301 S. Howard, Moore; www.cityofmoore.com) on Thursdays from 4 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon in late spring through the summer months.
“It’s a simple market, smaller in nature than some of the larger markets,” says Teresa Smith, special events coordinator with the City of Moore. “Our customers are very loyal.We have some who show up right when the opens every week, ready to get the best stuff our vendors have to offer.”
The market offers locally-raised fruits and vegetables, as well as spices, incense, wines, jellies, salsa and barbecue sauce.
“As the season progresses, the market gets busier and the produce gets more and more plentiful,” Teresa adds. “It’s a great place to find watermelons, cantaloupes, tomatoes, okra, squash, spinach and more. Ms. Nettie, our spice lady, is one of my favorite vendors. She has so many great spices and teas. I love her chili spice.”
Teresa anticipates that the market will continue to grow and says that the market will eventually relocate to the city’s new central park.
“We will have an area specific to the Farmers Market in the new park,” she says. “We hope to move the market in the next two to three years.”
Norman Farmers Market
For more than 30 years, the Norman Farmers Market (615 E. Robinson, Norman; www.clevelandcountyfair.org) has provided local growers with an opportunity to sell their agricultural products and has served as a place for community members to find a wide variety of homegrown local items. In 2012, the Norman Farm Market was honored as one of the top 20 medium level farmers markets in the nation.
The market generally opens in mid-April and stays open through the end of October. Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to noon. This season, instead of Wednesday mornings, the market will be open on Tuesday evenings from 4 to 8 p.m.
“Before this change, customers had to try to make it to the market on their lunch hours and then try to keep their produce cool or refrigerated until after work,” explains Wanda Danley, administrative secretary at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds. “Now, they can easily stop by on their way home from work and we can make it a more festival-like atmosphere.”
The market will also add nine new vendors this season, offering everything from fresh produce to goat’s milk soap, pet treats and more.
Find a list of what produce is available each month at www.clevelandcountyfair.org/whatisinseason.html.
Ready to find the best local produce in the OKC metro? Find a farmers market near you in MetroFamily’s Guide to Farmers Markets.