The 2018 Farmers Market Season kicks-off in May with Ottawa County's two markets, one in Fairland and one in Miami, returning for their third season with continuing programs and some exciting new additions.
MIAMI – As the first inklings of spring appear in northeast Oklahoma organizers and vendors are preparing for the upcoming 2018 Farmers Market season.
Ottawa County is currently home to two markets – The Ottawa County Farmers Market in Miami and the Fairland Farmers Market, both entering their third season. Each helps build community bonds and knowledge through special events and classes while supporting the local economy and participating in nutrition programs that make healthier eating options more accessible.
COMING THIS SEASON
The Ottawa County Farmers Market begins its 2018 season May 3 and will run weekly on Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m. until October at the covered pavilion behind the All Saints’ Episcopal Church at 225 B St NW, in Miami.
Returning this season will be community supper nights, kids activities, and live music.
With the support of funding from the Miami Public Library's Health Literacy Program, this year the market will also be extending food tasting and education activities with a dedicated staff intern from Northeastern State University's nutritional science dietetics program.
Ottawa County Farmers Market coordinator Kris Woodruff said the market is also working to attract more food trucks to participate.
New for this season is the introduction of a free 30-minute yoga session every third Thursday from 5:30 to 6 p.m. sponsored by Bliss Yoga of Miami. The first session, “Intro to Yoga for all Ages” will be held May 17. Classes are designed to be inclusive and for participants of all levels.
The market is also welcoming J&M Farms as a participating vendor selling mushrooms at wholesale and possibly compost as available.
In celebration, the Ottawa County Farmers Market will host its first Mushroom Festival on May 31. Attendees will have access to information on the health benefits of mushrooms, free recipes, food tastings, kid’s activities, prizes and more.
"We hope that everyone can come out to support local business and agriculture and enjoy all the great events that we have planned," said Woodruff.
The Ottawa County Farmers Market shares resources and updates through its Facebook page and at its new website www.ottawacountyfm.com.
Woodruff said there is also an upcoming opportunity for employment as a market assistant, a position that will be posted at the Northeastern Tribal Health Services website www.nthsclinic.com.
The Fairland Farmers Market begins its 2018 season May 12 and runs weekly on Saturdays opening an hour earlier this season from 8 to 11 a.m. However, there might be opportunities to extend hours upon request, according to Fairland Farmers Market coordinator and Stardust Market Garden co-owner Kelda Lorax.
“We'll be opening an hour earlier to accommodate many of our loyal customers, and we want folks to know this year we do have a 'cool weather caveat' so if 11 a.m. is too early to come by, (and if it's not blazing hot so that we want to run for our lives!), send a message or call and we might stick around for you,” said Lorax.
The market is also planning on a new location at 50 N Pine in Fairland. Final approval for the new location is still pending but is expected to be approved by the Fairland Board of Trustees.
“Our location this year will likely be the grassy area between Family Dollar and Mr. D's. It's visible from the highway but not right next to the highway like last year, and people can get groceries with both us and those businesses at the same time,” said Lorax. “We haven't firmed that location up yet though, and once we do we will again have beautiful posters once we've confirmed all the details.”
Lorax added that the Fairland Farmers Market is still open to sponsors to place their logo on posters and Market Bucks.
“Say thanks to our local farmers who love Fairland by sponsoring and of course just shopping at the Market!” said Lorax.
The market will also continue its outreach through social media offering updates on program partnerships, what to expect at the market weekly and sharing its best moments.
"Our Facebook page, Fairland Farmers Market, has been (an) epicenter for lots of updates like the senior farmers market benefit program, a Remind app so you can get text message reminders about each market, and our weekly Fresh Sheet so people can use our food to plan out menus,” said Lorax. “We're also doing a lot more on Instagram; if you love seeing and sharing pictures of Fairland-grown foods, find us there!"
This year, both markets are again participating in the Double Up Oklahoma Program, the Oklahoma Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and linking with Oklahoma Nutrition Information and Education (ONIE) Project resources.
Double Up Oklahoma is a statewide healthy food incentive that doubles the value of SNAP benefits spent at participating markets by providing a dollar-to-dollar match up to $20 per day on Oklahoma grown produce.
Double Up Bucks can also be used to purchase herbs and food-producing plants.
The wins are three-fold – low-income consumers eat more healthy food, local farmers gain new customers and make more money, and more food dollars stay in the local economy.
The Oklahoma Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program offers low-income, older citizens, ages 60 and over or 55 and over for Native Americans, an opportunity to purchase fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs from certified farmers with an EBT card from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Ottawa County residents can add their name to the waiting list by calling DHS at 405-521-4089. Seniors will receive an application in the mail in the spring, which needs to be completed and mailed back to the state. Once the applications are approved, $50 pre-loaded EBT cards are issued to participants.
In addition to the Double Up and Senior Nutrition programs, The Ottawa and Fairland markets also share resources made available through ONIE’s “Choose Homemade” initiative, which aims to encourage families statewide to prepare healthy meals at home.
Easy access is at the center of ONIE’s efforts, having created more than 100 quick, tasty and healthy recipes for families that are available free online, many along with instructional videos and distributed at farmers markets as nutrition calendars and recipe cards.
The recipes are designed to keep meal costs low, use few ingredients, and in most cases take fewer than 30 minutes. Recipes are also selected using community feedback to ensure meals are not only healthier but will be something most families will also enjoy.
Shoppers can learn more about the ONIE Project and "Choosing Homemade" at their farmers market or by visiting their website at www.onieproject.org.
Dorothy Ballard is the managing news editor of the Miami News-Record. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @dm_ballard.