MIAMI — Trying to eat healthier?
The Ottawa County Farmers Market is the place to turn for that.
A huge variety of produce is available, as well as baked goods and honey, along with homemade soaps, woodcraft and jewelry.
Normally held outside at the pavilion on the west side All Saints’ Episcopal Church every Thursday, last week’s persistent rain moved things inside.
But that didn’t keep a large number of vendors and customers from celebrating National Farmers Market Week.
“The great thing about shopping here is its fresh, its local — the produce is usually picked within the last day or so,” said Micah Smith, a representative of the Oklahoma City-based Oklahoma Nutrition Information and Education (ONIE) Project. “So when you come to these farmers markets, you know you are getting fresh produce and they are coming from farmers from this area and they’re not being shipped across the country in the back of a truck.”
ONIE’s mission is to improve the health of Oklahoma families via a number of options: offering various nutrition and physical activity programming, as well as providing information and educational materials statewide.
“The good thing about these farmers markets is you are only finding fresh produce,” Smith said. “Most of the stuff here is organic, so you don't have to worry about the pesticides on the produce.”
Joyce Payne, owner of Payne’s Happy Harvest Produce of Fairland, displayed a variety of produce as well as eggs.
“Everyone wants healthy food and local produce is the way to do it,” Payne said. “We all try to be pesticide-free. We can’t say we’re organic because there is a certification with that, but we try to be as natural as we can.
“You don't know where it (most produce available in stores) comes from. It’s shipped and has to be picked really early. It doesn't naturally ripen on the vine, so it doesn't taste quite the same and have the flavor.”
Payne focuses on her eggs, because she has her own chickens (around 300).
“I know what goes into them and they are free range. We only pen them up at night,” she said.
She said they also have ducks, guineas and other varieties.
Fred Pace, who owns Four States Honey in Vinita, says he regularly participates in the Miami farmers market.
“It’s good for the community,” Pace noted, saying that business is always brisk.
Oklahoma has more than 40 farmers markets accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Senior Farmers Market benefits across the state. SNAP-accepting farmers markets help more families have access to fresh, quality food.
“By welcoming SNAP benefits, farmers markets are helping to ensure all Oklahomans has access to high-quality, locally-grown food. You can trust the food will last longer when it comes straight from the farm to your kitchen,” ONIE Project’s Outreach Coordinator Jade Owen said in a release. “This is a great way to support local farmers while enjoying a family-friendly shopping environment and activities many of the markets offer.”
Reaching out to the community in numerous ways has helped locally, said Josie Alexander, Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Assistant with the Northeastern Tribal Health System and one of the local market coordinators.
“We do a really good job of advertising the market and reaching out to the community. This helps our turnout tremendously,” she said. “We feel as if the market has had a huge impact on Ottawa County because of the option to use a SNAP or credit/debit card, as well as the $20 match from the Double Up Program.
“The vendors who come have a variety of choices for people to choose from. Their produce/products are not store-bought; they are grown/made by their own hands, which is what makes them unique. We are very grateful to be able to accept SNAP as well as match customers SNAP purchase up to $20. This helps them get all the organic produce they need for a great price,” Alexander said.
The Miami market will be open through Sept. 26.