The season for farmers markets is here, with some opening as early as this weekend.
The Norman Farmers Market welcomes shoppers Saturday for the first market of the year. The Edmond Farmers Market starts downtown April 13.
And the OSU-OKC Farmers Market, which operates year-round, extends its hours to 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting Saturday at the Horticulture Pavilion, 400 N Portland. The Wednesday market was moved from the Whole Foods Market parking lot near Chesapeake Energy Corp. to the pavilion.
Early market finds include salad greens such as lettuce and spinach, hothouse tomatoes, herbs and bedding plants, said Blayne Arthur, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. In the summer, farmers will have more local fruits including peaches, watermelons and strawberries.
“Oklahoma weather can make specialty crop production challenging at times. As we get into warmer weather, we'll get more of those favorites,” Arthur said.
Recent rains were good news for farmers, but it doesn't mean the drought is over, she said. Moisture has been lacking for so long, the state needs more significant rain like we received this week.
“We did get some welcome rain this week and more to come, that's really going to help,” said producer Wayne Whitmore, who grows asparagus, tomatoes, squash, sweet corn and melons at his farm in Coyle. He said his crops have been a little slow to peek from the soil this year, but production should pick up soon.
He's been selling at farmers markets for more than 25 years and says shoppers' appetites for locally grown produce have been steadily increasing, although foot traffic slowed last year in the hottest part of the summer.
Whitmore is a vendor in Stillwater, Edmond and at the Agriculture Department, which hosts a weekly farmers market on Tuesdays in its front parking lot at 2800 N Lincoln Blvd.
The department also operates a website, www.okgrown.com, to help consumers locate farmers markets in their area.
The website also indicates which farmers markets are 100 percent Oklahoma-grown, which is important to some people, Arthur said.
Metro area farmers markets
• OSU-OKC: Saturdays year-round. Hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting Saturday. A weekly Wednesday market begins May 15. Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Site: OSU-OKC Horticulture Pavilion, 400 N Portland.
• Norman: Opens Saturday. Hours are 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays and Wednesdays. Site: Cleveland County Fairgrounds, 615 E Robinson.
• Moore: Starts May 23. Hours are 4 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays through Aug. 31. Site: 301 S Howard.
• Edmond: Opens April 13. Hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through October; Wednesday market runs 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 5 through Aug. 14. Site: Festival Market Place, 26 W First.
Oklahoma weather can make specialty crop production challenging at times. As we get into warmer weather, we'll get more of those favorites.”
Spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry