By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Norman Farmers Market has a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, but it’s much more than homegrown produce.
The farmers market at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds, 615 E. Robinson St., started in 1980. It is open from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesdays and Saturdays.
A venue for fruits and veggies, the market has grown into a place where friends meet and chat. Booths offer everything from jellies, jams, honey and canned veggies to crafts and Tupperware.
A young couple from Florida said they moved to Norman in February and had just learned about the market. They came in search of fresh produce.
Karen Pusin has operated a booth at the farmers market for more than a decade. She loves to chat with customers and is quick to answer questions and help educate people on her wares.
Among Pusin’s offerings is a cypress vine that she said is a drought-tolerant plant used for erosion control in many areas. The pink or red flowers attract hummingbirds, and the plant will either vine on a trellis or cover the ground.
“They’re a serious hummingbird attractor,” she said. “They like lots of sun and drop their seeds. I’m into self-seeding annuals.”
Pusin said with Oklahoma’s weather extremes, self-seeding annuals often fare better than perennials.
Some booths offer doo-dads and gewgaws along with live plants and fresh produce. A row of homemade solar lights made a colorful display. Another booth offered macramé earrings.
Dairy products, eggs and grass-fed beef also can be found at the market along with granola, kosher foods and locally grown goji berries.
The goji berry, or wolfberry, is one of the popular new superfoods and usually comes from China, but a local grower has found that they adapt well to Oklahoma.
“We’re right outside Norman city limits,” said Kevin Collins of Canadian Valley Farms. “No one else is growing them in Oklahoma.”
Collins said the berries can be eaten fresh but also can be put on cereal, into baked goods or ice cream and more. He said the leaves are also nutritionally valuable.
“We have about an acre under production,” Collins said. “We’ll go for another half acre this next year.”
Collins and his parents, Richard and Judy Collins, run the farm.
Farmers market booths are located in the parking lot outside as well as inside. This week young, Clayton Wright helped out his “pawpaw’s friend” at a booth. Down the way, Kaileyn Spaulding crocheted and answered customers’ questions about goats, goats’ milk and homemade soaps.
From Dreamy Hollow Farm, Spaulding also sells macramé anklets and bracelets. She said they raise and milk Alpine and Toggenburg goats. Heidi might have been caring for and milking Toggenburgs.
Swiss dairy goats are credited as being the oldest known dairy goat breed.
The Alpine is a French dairy goat breed. The variety of colors in this breed make them distinctive.
Spaulding said Dreamy Hollow has had a booth at the Norman Farmers Market for four years.
Want fresh, eggs? Liz Nichols at the Barley’s Garden Patch booth said she has 200 chickens and has been peddling her wares at the farmers market for six years now.
“They’re free-range,” she said. “They have a huge yard. They eat a lot of bugs and grass.”
Nichols also has two varieties of table grapes for sale. Last week was the end of blackberry season, she said.
Another booth offered handmade garden stepping stones. Yet another had specialty teas and spices.
Residents can find peanut butter, nuts, candles and homemade dog treats.
For the next three Saturdays, Col. Dick’s Flea Market also will be at the fairgrounds, so Saturday morning adventure shoppers can get their fill with the opportunity to sort through collectables and antiques, too.
The farmers market runs through October. Col. Dick’s Flea Market runs on the second Saturday of the month yearround, and he picks up other Saturdays whenever events are scheduled in the arena.