By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — For anyone whose mantra is buy local, the Noble Farmers Market on Main Street on the south end of town is a treasure waiting to be discovered.
“We don’t charge booth rental,” said Robin Stead, market manger. “We’re not going to attract the big producers. This is the way to share your produce with your neighbors.”
Heat slowed things down a little, but the Noble Farmers Market installed misters and kept on going every Saturday morning... even on Aug. 4, the weekend fires raged throughout Cleveland County.
Now, with cooler temperatures, there are an increasing number of vendors with more products and produce than ever.
“A lot of plants were burned up in the fields,” said vendor Patricia McFarland, who said the cooler weather is bringing back her crops including her tomatoes. “Just keep watering, watering,” she said of how she survived the heat.
Squash are doing well as are green peppers, she said.
Carolyn McCabe has locally produced honey for sale. She is part of the Noble Beekeepers Association.
“We have about 30 members in our association,” she said,
Locally bees feed on alfalfa or buckwheat... crops that are genetically modified don’t attract bees, she said.
“They can’t get the nectar,” McCabe said of GMOs. “One out of every three bites that we eat is because of pollinators.”
Norene and Jim DeLoach bring homemade products, many created by daughter Laura Spurgeon. The Noble Farmers Market has everything from crochet afghans, handmade soaps, and fresh vegetables to grass fed meats and organic, free -range eggs.
Betty Leggiero of Kudos Permaculture Farm has soap, foot soap, dish detergent and more.
“You’re creating cycles on your farm,” she said of the permaculture philosophy. “It’s a sustainable method.”
Her rabbits poop and that poop goes into the worm bin and the worms turn it into special earth that acts as a fertilizer, she said.
Her daughter creates the Love the Earth detergents and other products that are environmentally safe and work well now that gray water ordinances allow people to water their yards and gardens with water from the washing machine, she said.
Beth Baker sells handmade necklaces crafted from beads she made of polymer clay.
“I couldn’t find the kind of beads I wanted to string,” she said. “I thought maybe I could make my own beads.”
“I just like the way they look,” said Shana Adkins of Needmore Farms about her black cherry heirloom tomatoes. “I’ve been growing them for three years and everybody really likes them.”
Bread from Golden Grain Farms in Ada is made by a woman who grinds her own flour.
Patrice Whittle raises large black hogs and grass fed Criollo beef. The Criollo breed is Spanish.
“It’s a small breed, very thrifty,” she said.
Criollo have a smaller environmental footprints. But Whittle said doing things in a more sustainable way is expensive.
“We cannot get non-GMO feed in this state,” she said. “We spend more money.”
At Double R in Asher, Okla., they are looking into a fodder system, Whittle said.
As the shop local, eat local movement grows alongside consumer desire for organic produce, grass fed meat, and free range eggs and poultry, local farmers markets like Noble will continue to thrive. Stead believes the Noble Farmers Market is part of a wider commitment made toward healthy lifestyle by the city of Noble.
Stead said people are learning to eat with the seasons as awareness increases. While asparagus and rhubarb are available in March, most Oklahoma produce comes on later in the season.
There are those farmers with greenhouses, however, and there are vegetables that can be canned, frozen or stored for winter months, just as our Oklahoma ancestors did when farms had to be self-sustaining.
“It’s a much different environment,” Stead said. “Once we get loyal customers, they come back every week.”
The Noble Farmers Market has focused on Oklahoma Grown products since 2008.
“We have to be unique, there has to be a reason why people come here,” Stead said. “We’re trying to educate people about the importance of buying local and supporting local business.”
Joy Hampton 366-3539 jhampton@ normantranscript.com