Tahlequah Farmers' Market, now in its 10th year, welcomed a slate of new vendors in 2017, adding to the list of unblemished and garden-fresh items to be found under the Pavilion in downtown Tahlequah.
Marla Saeger, president of TFM, said business has been steadily growing since the market first started, and that there's no better place in the area to find fresh produce.
"Last year, we had 36 vendors, and this year, we have 40," she said. "So we lost a few, but we gained even more. Our attendances have been great, which is about 800 people who show up [every Saturday]."
Just a few of the new vendors this year are Dry Creek Refuge, My Place Cakes & Confections, and Crescent Moon Crafts.
Dry Creek Refuge is in its second year of business and first year at the Farmers' Market. The refuge has been a part of the Cherry Street Farmers' Market in Tulsa, and sells produce to several Tulsa restaurants.
Ben Berry, of Dry Creek, grew up in the Tahlequah area, and he says taking produce to the TFM was one avenue to reconnect with the city.
"I don't get to see everyone from Tahlequah all the time, but now, being down there each week, we see lots of friends and family," he said. "It's a really neat, intimate market, compared to Cherry Street."
Part of Dry Creek's mission is to use sustainable farming practices that help support the environment and personal health.
"I have a huge problem with large corporate agriculture and a thousand acres of vegetables, and [their] land use practices," said Berry. "Big agriculture is the leading polluter in the country for air and water. I worked for the Conservation Commission for the state for eight years, and basically, agriculture was the absolute worst pollutant in our environment. So, we organic farm. We don't use bad chemicals and stuff. We try to really be stewards to the land. I think through supporting small local farming, you're supporting good land use ethics, too."
Berry said the DCR offers tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, beans, potatoes, onions and more.
"Just about everything you can think of," he said.
The products at the Farmers' Market are considered healthier than most other produce found in the area. However, there are tables for folks with a sweet tooth, too.
Kristi Lock, of My Place Cakes & Confections, said she typically brings samples of her delectables to the TFM, and also takes orders.
"We're a home bakery, but we're not strictly cake," she said. "We'll bring chocolate candy bars, cookies, mini cupcakes and giant peanut butter cups. We do a lot."
Lock said she can customize orders, make deliveries, and cater to all dietary restrictions.
"I'm not against Walmart or anything like that, but when you're buying cakes at Walmart, you're not getting great quality," she said. "You have no idea how long they've been sitting around or who made it."
While food is the main commodity at the Farmers' Market, locals can find a variety of crafts and jewelry. Crescent Moon Crafts offers unique local jewelry made by Elaine Hughes.
"I've been doing this for over 10 years," Hughes said. "My specialty is wire weaving and wire wrap design. I also do bead crafts, necklaces, medallions. I can do special orders, so if someone likes the design, but not the colors, I can always do something specific for them."
Hughes said that in the past, she's done a variety of pop-up shows and has had booths at events like the Red Fern Festival.
"One of the problems I had with pop-up festivals is that people kept asking if I had a store front," she said. "The Farmers' Market was something that I used to visit quite often, so I figured that would be a good place for locals to find me. And it's consistent, which is one of the best things."