Tahlequah Daily Press

August 15, 2013

Vendor enjoys growing quality produce

By SEAN ROWLEY
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — srowley@tahlequahdailypress.com

Tang Moua believes patrons of the Tahlequah Farmers’ Market should visit her booth and check out her produce because she puts so much effort into ensuring its quality.

Standing among her display of tomatoes, corn, potatoes, green beans, lemon grass, okra, peaches, green peppers, gourds, watermelons and cantaloupes, Moua greets customers as the proprietor of Thao Farms in Jay.

“I spend all day with my produce, starting at about 5:30 to 6 in the morning to 10 or 11 at night,” she said. “Some farmers may also need to take care of chickens, but my produce is my only job. That is why it is so good.”

Born in Laos, Moua came to the U.S. in 1978. She worked in the auto industry until 2009, but has extensive experience selling produce in markets. This is her second year as a vendor with the Tahlequah Farmers’ Market.

“I lived in South Carolina and worked with markets there for three years,” she said. “I’ve been working with markets since I moved to Oklahoma.”

Thao Farms is one of four vendors who travel to the Tahlequah market from Jay. The proprieters are all family and cooperate with each other.

“My sister-in-law and I come down here together so we can help each other out,” she said.

A mother of seven, Moua said farming her four- to five-acre plot delivers multiple health benefits to her family.

“It puts good healthy food on our table,” she said. “It is good physical work for me and my husband, who is diabetic. He works on the farm and sweats all day, and he says that keeps him healthy. And we also make money. We love to do what we are doing.”

Moua added that although she participates in other markets, she takes part in the Tahlequah market because “I want to see it grow and I want to be part of it.”

To accommodate vendors and customers, the Tahlequah Farmers’ Market is now gathering on Tuesdays and is open until 1 p.m. Saturdays.

“Everything is going very well,” said Marka Saeger, market president. “The Tuesdays are off to a good start and we are averaging between 600 and 900 people on Saturdays.”

Saeger anticipates the Tuesday markets will continue.

“We had more than 100 people come through each of the first two Tuesdays, so I think we are going to stick with it,” she said. “The farmers really like it. It can be difficult to sell everything you’ve harvested on one day per week.”

Featuring local vendors, the Farmers’ Market includes produce such as squash, tomatoes, corn, spinach, lettuce an cabbage. Free-range chicken and eggs are also sold, as are meats.