POSTED ON MAY 23, 2007:
Wanna Get Fresh?
All of a sudden, not one, not two, but three new farmers' markets around town
The Cherry Street Farmers Market has been in operation since 1998 and has grown each year. It's still on the corner of 15th & Peoria on Saturday mornings from 7-11am.
In recent years, farmers' markets have been popping up all over the country in big cities and suburban areas alike, as more and more people are making a conscious effort to get healthy and to help support sustainable farms that balance on the fringes of our urban societies.
These farmers markets traditionally feature produce grown naturally or organically, meats raised on the pasture, free range eggs, handmade cheeses and heirloom produce and heritage breeds.
These days, as the markets have grown in popularity and scope, you'll often also find things like homemade soaps and bath products, pottery and clay works, jewelry, and basically anything that's local and handmade. In larger cities, these markets are sometimes even a venue for musicians and artists to promote their talents.
The Cherry Street Farmers Market has been in operation since 1998 and has grown each year. It's still be at the corner of 15th & Peoria on Saturday mornings from 7 to 11am, but the Wednesday market has left its former home at the Tulsa Garden Center and set up shop on the northwest corner of 41st & Peoria from 8am to 12pm.
This group still strives to be a staple for our spring and summer shopping. They'd also like you to know that they've now been designated an official recycling point for your plastic bags.
But, surely, there's room for more than one Farmers' Market in this town. Green Country is largely rural, which means there are plenty of delightful treats that could be coming fresh, straight to your table. After all, since the produce doesn't have very far to travel, the farmers are able to pick at the peak of flavor and preserving the nutritional content of the fresh foods.
These markets also help local farmers to stay in business. When they sell their products wholesale, they rarely get a fair price, which seems to simply be "how it works" in big business farm trade these days. If these farmers are able to conserve resources in travel costs and are able to sell directly to the public, however, then the difference in costs will help keep their family businesses afloat. At least, that's the idea.
One local businesswoman is looking not only to help keep these farmers sustainable, but also to bring a bit of this freshness into downtown. Lola Palazzo, owner of Lola's at the Bowery on Brady, has started her own farmers' market in a parking lot at the corner of Brady and Main.
In her restaurant, she already offers fresh bread, coffee, milk, eggs and butter for purchase to local residents who are sorely lacking a grocery store (or even a convenience store!) in their neighborhood. As more people have been moving into the area, Palazzo has seen an increasing need for a market of some kind.
She said, "Some people really want to live in downtown, but as neighborhoods go, it just doesn't have the resources."
She believes that her concept, The Brady Village Farmers Market, will help bring even more people to downtown, perhaps even folks who wouldn't normally make the trek but want to avoid super-chain grocery stores and their plastic-coated produce. She plans on running the market May through October and hopes to attract vendors from all over Northeastern Oklahoma who produce fresh vegetables, fruits, and other groceries, as well as locally-produced artistic and functional wares to attract more shoppers. She may even consider roaming entertainment as a way to liven up the atmosphere.
Lola's real goal with the market is, she asserted, "to keep it local, to make our neighborhood sustainable, and to provide an opportunity to not eat out so far on the food chain." She wants the market to be not only a place to buy groceries, but also a gathering place of sorts, a place where neighbors and outsiders alike can get together, exchange ideas about food and gardening, and to make a common ground for everyone who's doing their part to keep local businesses alive.
Before she really gets the ball rolling, however, Palazzo needs to line up these people who are interested in selling their products. Most anyone is welcome, so if you, or someone you know, want to be a part of the Brady Village Farmers Market, email email@example.com or call 592-7995. She can't wait to hear from you.
Another new location that has recently opened is the Pearl Farmers' Market, which received approval from the INCOG Board of Adjustment to host its own market on Thursdays from 4 to 8pm at Centennial Park, on 6th Street between Peoria and Elgin. They chose Thursdays so as to provide an additional day, in the middle of the week, on which people can buy fresh foods.
Much like the Brady Village Market, the main focus will be fresh & foods, but the Pearl Market, brought to you through Sustainable Green Country (and a number of other generous organizations), has even gone a step further, seeking and gaining certification from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture as an "Oklahoma-grown" market, meaning that 100 percent of their food products are raised or manufactured in Oklahoma. How's that for local support?
Leah Pickard, Pearl Farmers' Market Manager, believes that the more farmers' markets Tulsa can up and running, the better. She enthusiastically stated, "Our goal is to have a farmers' market in Tulsa every day of the week. I know there is demand for it, especially in other parts of town, and with several markets, more farmers will come in, and they'll make more money, therefore creating the sustainable environment we're looking for."
Like the other Tulsa markets, the Pearl Market not only sells organics, but also herbs, plants, ceramics, jewelry, and host occasional performances by the likes of Punch and Judy, making the market more that just a place to shop, but a destination for the entire family as well.
Perhaps most importantly, the market strives to focus on what seems to be this common goal of sustainability, to prove that Green Country can support area farmers without forcing them to sell their goods wholesale to chain supermarkets. The more educated people become on the subject, Pickard believes, the more likely they are to shop at the farmers' markets and the better chance farmers have of making a decent living.
She confided, "We really hope to be able to form a Green Country Farmers' Market Alliance with the other markets in town. We want to work together to make farmers' markets and sustainability a part of daily Tulsa life."
And yet another downtown-area market has cropped up: The Downtown Tulsa Farmers' Market on the Williams Green at 3rd & Boston. Running from 10:30am to 2pm on Tuesdays, the market hopes to attract downtown workers and residents on their lunch breaks and offer them a place to shop in downtown.
Donna Voglepohl, Market Manager, said that this market is really trying to push Sustainable Green Cuontry's campaign to "Buy Fresh, Buy Local," and has even gotten Mayor Taylor on their side to bring a little green into downtown Tulsa.
Vogelphol said, "We will mostly be selling produce, but it comes from all over Oklahoma, from as far away as places like Durant and Bartlesville. We have also gotten Natural Farms meats to participate, so you'll be able to buy all the trimmings for a delicious meal at our market."
Other markets in the area that are up and running, or will be soon, include The Owasso Farmers' Market, The Collinsville Farmers' Market and the Jenks Farmers' Market on the Bridge.
From May through October, Owasso will hold holds market on Wednesdays at the YMCA at 8300 N. Owasso Expressway from 8am-12pm and another at the same time on Saturdays at Rejoice Church, Highway 169 & 106th St. N. In addition to produce, they also sell plants, bedding, soaps and meats.
Collinsville holds a small, produce only market at 12th & Main from 8-11am on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It will open on June 2nd & will close at the end of October.
Jenks' market has moved to the Pedestrian Bridge across from the RiverWalk Crossing. They run a Saturday Market that will run through October 2nd. Come and get your plants, fruits, veggies and homemade goodies from 7am-12pm.
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