Tahlequah Farmers' Market

At the Tahlequah Farmers' Market last Saturday, Paul Thao, of Empire Farm in Jay, right, sacks up vegetables for shoppers Jeannie Harding, left, and Sue McMurray.

Chua and Paul Thao, of Empire Farm in Jay, have been farming in Oklahoma 12-13 years and selling at the Tahlequah Farmers' Market just about as long, according to their son, Peter.

"My parents used to farm back in Thailand and Laos, so they brought the skills they grew up with over to the states," said Peter.

Laos is the birthplace of both his parents.

"They could never use those [skills] in the states until they moved from California to a place with more room such as Oklahoma," said Peter.

The Thaos enjoy farming and watching the plants grow and bear fruit.

Farming is a year-round activity, and when it's winter and spring, they prepare seeds, and there isn't really a day of doing nothing.

"I enjoy farming to a smaller degree and I enjoy reading, as well as playing games," he said. "I do not plan to carry on the family farm, but I will grow vegetables for my family later in life."

The farm is full-time work for both of the parents. Peter is a Northeastern State University information systems student, but he helps when he can.

Most weekends, he and his mom bring the produce to the market in Tahlequah. Last week, they were on vacation and dad delivered the homegrown veggies to smiling customers.

"We grow many different things and we are also planning on bringing some shiitake mushrooms maybe sometime late fall or next year," he said. "We usually sell what sells the best, but we also grow different things to see how the market reacts and to see if it sticks."

The boba tea is new this year.

"The reason we decided to do it is because I saw it as a potential side to the vegetables we are selling. It's going well so far and hopefully gets busier during the summer," Peter said.

The Empire Farm booth is a regular on the front corner under the Leoser Pavilion.

"If you ever want fresh veggies, just come by the Farmers' Market and we'll sell you some," he said, "or the farm in Jay."

Last Saturday morning, Sue McMurray and Jeannie Harding, both of Tahlequah, were among the shoppers enjoying the traditional Celtic music of Mike Allen's bagpipe and harp. They chatted with friends while perusing the many vendor booths: veggies, breads and pastries, beef, jewelry, elderberry plants, wine, essential oils and more.

"We like the fresh produce and variety of products," said McMurray. "We also like to support the local economies, and we really enjoy the music."