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Oklahoma Agricultural Department program gives starting farmers a helping hand

People with at least a quarter acre can apply for an Oklahoma program to start growing vegetables and fruit. Growers are having bumper crops this year through the program.
by Robert Medley Published: July 2, 2012

Four years ago, Rochelle King never had grown vegetables or fruit.

A beautician who also had a day care service, she decided she needed to grow fresh produce for the children to eat.

Then, on a small patch of land in Spencer, where she also has a beauty shop today, King took advantage of a state program to use a plastic irrigation system to grow tomatoes, okra, squash, green beans, cucumbers and peppers.

King calls it The Garden Spot, where she sells fresh vegetables grown organically.

This summer, the production has been so good she is selling vegetables to Buy For Less, Uptown Market, Whole Foods and Native Roots in Norman, and Meat House in Edmond, a grocery store that sells fresh produce.

She planted more than 3,000 tomato vines that have thrived with plenty of rain and cool temperatures in the early part of the planting season.

She is one of more than 370 people who have planted gardens after applying for the Oklahoma Agriculture Department's plasticulture program.

The program was developed by Micah Anderson, 53, who joined the agriculture department seven years ago. People who have at least a quarter acre can apply for free installation of the irrigation system that uses plastic ground cover to extend the growing season for three years at no charge.

Jamey Allen, director of market development for the state agriculture department, said Anderson has been popular statewide.

“Micah is well received by new farmers and is able to connect with growers in the state,” Jamey Allen said.

Anderson said tomatoes and watermelons have done exceptionally well in Oklahoma this year.

A heat wave may not stop production as long as it doesn't last too long. Compared to last summer's drought, farmers are doing great.

Production is a lot higher this year than last, Anderson said.

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by Robert Medley
Breaking News Reporter
Robert Medley has been a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1989, covering various news beats in the Oklahoma City metro area and in the Norman news bureau. He has been part of the breaking news team since 2008. A 1987 University of Oklahoma...
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AT A GLANCE

How landowners can apply for state program to start a garden

People who have at least a quarter acre can apply for a state program that uses plastic ground cover to extend the growing season. Equipment and supplies are provided free for three years. For more information, go to www.oda.state.ok.us/mktdev/plasticulture.htm or call 521-3864.

When you plant a seed or a plant and take care of that and then you see the productivity of it, I think it teaches and it does something to you spiritually. And it makes you a better person.”

Micah Anderson

Developer of Oklahoma Agriculture Department's plasticulture program

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