Vails and Bailey said the area including the Farmers Public Market is unique in that it is anchored by a large venue that still hosts concerts and special events, antiques shops and a couple of surviving produce vendors including Urban Agrarian, which opened last year.
“We have an opportunity to work with an area that has a culture and a history,” Vails said. “Here, it will be food and market focused. It will be daytime focused.”
Bailey said representatives of several depressed areas of town sought to host the second Better Block OKC, but Farmers Market quickly emerged as a favorite among the group's 20 volunteers.
That interest, she added, was partially due to public debates over design and construction of a new nearby downtown boulevard and also by Urban Agrarian's involvement in the first Better Block OKC.
“We first worked with Urban Agrarian during last year's Better Block OKC event, where they were a vendor,” Bailey said. “We are looking forward to helping them improve their home district now. Our volunteers' enthusiasm and the support from stakeholders in the area will be good ingredients for the project.”
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The Farmers Market District is a series of commercial buildings built in the late 1920s around the landmark Farmers Public Market at 311 S Klein Ave. When built in 1928 by John J. Harden, the market was promoted as a way to clear up the mess farmers were creating along California Avenue. The site previously was home to the city's Delmar Gardens. With the opening of the market, Oklahoma City had one centralized place for farmers to sell their produce and a community event center as well. The upstairs of the market hosted music legends Hank Williams, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charlie Daniels and Arlo Guthrie. The market area remained a popular venue for fresh produce sales through the late 1990s. In more recent years, retail operations dropped significantly, and the market is home to just a couple of produce shops, antiques vendors and a live event venue in the restored public market building. For more information about the 2013 Better Block OKC at Farmers Market District or to sign up as a volunteer, go to www.betterblockokc.com.