The first day of spring is Saturday, March 20 and the feelings of growth and rejuvenation are extra welcome this year. After a difficult winter of being cooped up inside, the fresh air, blooming flowers, evening sunlight and outdoor activities will be a big mental health boost for us all. It also means supporting local food and farming, and most excitingly, farmers markets are back!
Supporting local farmers and food is important, and oh-so fresh. One of the best ways to do this is by shopping small at farmers markets. It doesn’t matter where you live in Oklahoma, a farmers market is nearby. The experience of going to a farmers market unfolds like a good story. There’s the beginning: researching what produce is in season, maybe planning a meal or two and then choosing your market. The middle: you’re walking around the market interacting with local farmers, sampling the local fare, choosing between a jam or freshly made bread then going with both. Then, the finale: when it all comes together in perfect meals throughout the week and sharing your new favorite vendor with friends. A fruitful endeavor, no doubt.
If you need help getting that spring in your step, or want to learn more about local food and gardening, OETA has you covered. First, you shouldn’t think of farmers markets as cost-prohibitive or intimidating. Don’t let money deter you from visiting your local market. Many markets accept SNAP and participate in Double Up Oklahoma, a statewide healthy food incentive program. This allows SNAP recipients to double the value (up to $20/day) of SNAP benefits at participating markets. More on this program and the location of Double Up markets can be found at DoubleUpOklahoma.org. If you aren’t a SNAP recipient, but are on a tight budget, start with your staples or a great piece of meat and build off that.
Once you find a market in your area (there’s a full list at ShapeYourFutureOK.com/farmers-markets), do your research on their hours of operation and any COVID-related safety protocols they may have in place. Some markets are evening offering online ordering. You can do the vendors a huge favor and bring cash—small bills are best. This helps them save money by avoiding credit card fees. It’s also helpful, and environmentally friendly, to bring your own reusable bags. Before purchasing anything, peruse the market to see what’s available and make a plan. You may find yourself scrapping your checklist—and that’s 100% okay. If you’re unfamiliar with a food item, like a veggie you’ve never seen before, there’s no shame in asking the vendor what it’s like and how to prepare it. You’ll find that the farmers market community is helpful and eager to share ideas. Lastly, some shoppers keep a small cooler in the car or use insulated bags; which is great if you have to travel or if you’re running other errands after visiting the market.
Of course, you’ll want to follow your market, farmers, and vendors on social media. They usually share updates on what items are available and pleasant pictures from the field. May the first blooms of spring, make your heart sing.
Heartland: Local Food
Heartland: Local Food explores the local food debate going on at the farmers market in Lawrence, KS and its representation of the food issues facing the entire United States. This film looks into what makes food sustainable, how farmers markets build community, and why local food matters. Watch Heartland: Local Food Thursday, March 18 at 7 pm. If you missed this program or would like to re-watch it, it's now available to stream with OETA Passport here.
Saturday, March 20 and 27 | 11 am
Oklahoma Gardening provides some of the best research-based information in Oklahoma. Watch along with segments from their studio garden, and get introduced to gardeners from around the state. Tune in to two new episodes of Oklahoma Gardening Saturday, March 20 and 27th at 11 am.