By Jocelyn Pedersen
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Noble Farmers Market has been awarded a $2,000 grant by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
The grant funds, available pursuant to the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Farm Bill, will be used to purchase and place signs near the farmers market as well as on the roadside on the way into Noble. Robin Stead, Farmers Market manager, said funds also will be used for advertising, recipe book publishing and similar activities.
The purpose of the project is to enhance specialty crop production by advancing the availability of locally grown produce and products throughout the state of Oklahoma and help stimulate rural economic development.
The market, located in front of Noble City Hall, 304 S. Main St., opened May 11 and will continue each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. through early October. Vendors at the market offer fresh fruit, vegetables, homemade soaps and crafts, including natural, handcrafted soaps, handmade jewelry, quilts and other gifts. Local schools and community groups set up booths to raise funds for their causes.
“We may be small, but we have a big heart,” said Stead.
The market partners with other groups for activities including the Healthy Noble Partnership, Noble Public Schools and the Noble Community Gardens located off 8th Street and Maguire at Dane Park.
Booth rental is free, but vendors must commit to selling only Oklahoma-grown and homemade products.
“We offer locally grown produce at a reasonable price,” Stead said. “Our goal is to convert every customer into a fresh produce aficionado. Once you have tasted a fresh, locally grown tomato, you realize the incredible flavor difference. There is no comparison. It truly is the same with all the vegetables. Our customers come back every week because they enjoy the social atmosphere and friendly vendors. Many people consider our vendors their friends.”
Ken and Iola Howard, produce vendors, provide free coffee, donuts, water and soft drinks during the farmer’s market for customers to enjoy at a picnic table under the trees or in the shade of the awnings covering the market. Ken Howard said he’ll have turnip greens, onions and a little asparagus this week, adding “it will be a late year” for produce due to the cool spring in Oklahoma.
“Some of our regular customers tell us they come to Noble because it is much easier to park and get their fresh produce here,” Stead said. “Noble’s market stays open an hour later than Norman’s, so late risers find it more convenient so they don’t have to rush around on their day to sleep in.”
Noble became a free market to encourage more vendors, Stead said.
“I didn’t want the cost of booth space to keep someone from bringing extra produce from their gardens down to sell to the community. Right now there is a growing trend to eat healthier. This trend is being supported by the state and federal governments.
“We want to encourage people to grow their own vegetables and to share their efforts with their neighbors through the Noble Farmers Market.”
For more information, visit the Noble Farmers Market on Facebook. Those interested in setting up a booth are invited to call Stead at 872-0100 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.