Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

May 29, 2012

Shoppers enjoy market’s slower pace

TAHLEQUAH — Visitors to the Tahlequah Farmers’ Market often notice a difference right off the bat: this is a place where the pace is slow and the conversations are long.

Both vendors and consumers think the market in Norris Park is a great place to not only buy fresh, locally grown produce, but also a place where family and friends can work and shop together. The market helps the local farmers, the local economy and brings people together.

Vera Harrall shops for produce every week.

“I don’t buy produce anywhere else,” she said.

Harrall is a home canner, and she buys things at the market to use in her canning projects.

“I think it’s great,” Harrall said. “Everyone needs to check it out. It’s fresh produce, and you know what you’re buying and where it comes from.”

Some consumers have been coming to the Farmers’ Market since its inception four years ago, while others are new to the products offered.

Saturday was Jessie Martin’s second time to visit the market. He said the reason he came back was because of the fresh produce and the kind people who sell it

“And the goat cheese is really good, too!” he said.

Other shoppers come from out of town. Sally Briggs lives outside of Locust Grove and she buys at the market regularly.

“I come to Tahlequah for any reason I can, and the Farmers’ Market is one of my favorite stops,” said Briggs. “The goat cheese is wonderful, and there are unusual vegetables offered that you don’t grow in your own garden.”

Briggs believes the market provides a service to the community.

“It’s a great asset, and a wonderful place for the farmers to sell their produce,” she said.

Vendors agree that Tahlequah Farmer’s Market is a great place for people to meet and families to shop, including Betty Raincrow.

“It helps farmers and gives fresh produce to the community,” she said. “We come here to sell our produce and visit with everyone,” said Raincrow.

Raincrow said she and her sister, Susie, raise and sell the vegetables as a hobby.

“We start [planting the garden] in the spring and go until around October,” she said.

Some vendors live outside of Cherokee County, but regularly have a booth at the local market.

Sophie Kue and her 13-year-old sister, Sandy, sell produce every week for their family farm in the Colcord area.

Like Raincrow, the Kues start their gardens in the spring and keep growing produce until the snow hits.

This is the third year vendor Karen White, from Rose, has a booth to sell her organic produce.

“My husband and I have 1-1/2 acres that is a certified organic operation,” White said.

The Farmer’s Market, according to White, strengthens the local economy and makes the community more self-sufficient.

“Tahlequah has a nice mixture of people who are still close to their roots,” said White.

“They appreciate fresh grown vegetables.”

White also believes the market’s location in Norris Park creates a cooperative with the businesses around it.

Vegetables are not the only thing sold at the Tahlequah Farmer’s Market.

Kathryn Alexander sells European-style hearth breads. She likes the atmosphere created at the park.

“[The Farmers’ Market] seems to have engendered more casual gatherings of people,” Alexander said. “You hear all kinds of friendly conversations. You hear friends catching up with what’s going on in their lives.”

A casual, friendly atmosphere also bonds the vendors, according to Alexander.

“We’re cooperatively helping each other,” Alexander said. “When a vendor needs help setting up a booth, for example, we pitch in and help. No one has to ask.”

Linda Johnson makes all-natural homemade dog treats, as well as selling fresh eggs.

Johnson said 80 percent of the vendors provide produce, and several of them are certified organic.

“The market is great for the vendors and the community”, Johnson said. “It’s getting to be popular to buy our fresh, healthy produce.”

Vendor Cara Schwichtenberg comes from Peggs to set up her booth of goat’s milk and egg yolk soaps.

“I have people who visit and buy my soap every week,” said Schwichtenberg. “I really appreciate them for that. “Every dollar we can keep in the community is a big help to our local economy.”

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