This week local producers around the country are celebrating National Farmers Market Week to promote and build recognition for the families and individuals who bring their communities fresh produce and products.
While grain and cotton have been the main crop grown in southwest Oklahoma, they aren’t the only goods produced by local farmers and gardeners.
In summer and early fall pumpkins, melons, gourds, as well as fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey, meat, eggs, flowers, plants, herbs, and spices are popular farm products sold through direct marketing. Winter brings cider, jellies, preserves, canned food, firewood and evergreen trees in some areas.
Sandy Martin from the Running Arrow Farm has been coming to Altus’ Farmers Market for seven years bringing fresh longhorn beef raised in Wellington, Texas, and honey made in Hollis with a variety of other canned and pickled products including peanut butter.
Martin began selling her products in Sayre nine years ago and joined the handful of vendors participating in Altus’ Farmers Market. Martin comes through Altus every Friday as the weather permits during the summer and twice a month on Friday during the winter.
“The five-year drought cut the farmers back,” Martin said. “When the market in Altus was re-established, we were given permission by the manager of the shopping mall to use the Altus Plaza Shopping Mall parking lot, and business began picking up again this year.”
The Altus Farmers Market hasn’t charged fees since 2011 but requires that all vendors submit a list of the products they sell, where those products are produced, and documentation certifying they are produced according to federal, state, and local regulations.
From the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act that promotes fair trade in the fruit and vegetable industry to the Food Quality Protection Act that provides pesticide residue monitoring, agricultural products sold through direct marketing are regulated first by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“All of these products are made in inspected kitchens and given legal labels,” Martin said. “Customers who buy products at a farmer’s market can get fresh produce that has been certified.”
The Altus Farmers Market is held Tuesday and Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. and Friday from 4 p.m. to sunset behind Walgreens at 1132 N. Main St.
Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.