Paulette Rink said she knows every person who grew or made the products for sale in her farmers market on wheels.
That's kind of the point, she said, which is evident by the bumper sticker displayed above the driver's seat that reads “Know Your Farmer.”
The concept is similar to that of most farmers markets: fresh produce grown by local farmers.
But what the Oklahoma Farm to Fork Market has done is solve a problem for farmers trying to sell their goods straight to consumers.
Rink said she and her family, who have a farm in Covington, once hauled their produce to the market, set up stands and hoped for a good day.
“You work so hard for hours, and then you sell $20,” she said. “Then you're like, ‘What do I do? I don't have market until next week.”
So, Rink and her family decided to diversify.
They had several friends in the same situation, and they came up with the idea of buying a bus and collecting diverse goods to sell.
They started out with a small bus. After a bit of success in Enid and Oklahoma City, Rink ran across a full-sized bus and decided to go for it.
The big yellow bus is what now transports the Farm to Fork Market to Enid, Stillwater and Oklahoma City four days a week.
‘This is their living'
Rink said they buy most of their products wholesale from about 25 farmers and businesses, and sell some on commission.
That makes it easier for the farmers to spend more time working with their crops and producing goods.
“With most people who sell their goods with us, this is their living,” she said. “And with us, their products get distributed four or five days a week, and they still have time to be at the farm doing what they need to be doing.”
The bus' shelves and fridges are stocked with seasonal produce, meat, dairy products, jellies, jams, peanut butter, baked goods, flours, prepared meals, teas, coffees, salsas and much more, all from Oklahoma.
Rink said a focus of the business is building trust and relationships with customers; something she thinks is missing from chain grocery stores.
“A lot of our customers are health-conscious,” she said. “They want to know where their food comes from, and they want to know who they're buying it from, and they want to know they can trust me.”
A unique experience
Skyler Collins, co-owner of Waving Wheat Bakery, said the bus offers a shopping experience people can't find elsewhere.
“They have customers come on the bus and have questions, and she'll call me and ask me about our products,” she said. “You can't get that at a grocery store. It's changing the way people grocery shop.”
The Rink family has been running the bus for five years and has noticed business dropping off with the construction of organic grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Sprouts in Oklahoma City.
“I don't blame people for going to those places because, you know, we are only in Oklahoma City on certain days of the week, and maybe that doesn't fit into their schedules,” she said.
But despite a small dip in business, she said, the Oklahoma Farm to Fork Market is looking to expand, with another farmer owned and operated bus in the works in the Tulsa area.
And as the business expands, Rink said, they want to stick to the values that started it all.
“We live the ‘know your farmer' concept,” she said. “We're not trying to save the earth or anything, but there are certain things that we can do and live healthy and maintain a good lifestyle. We like helping people feel better.”
IF YOU GO
Oklahoma Farm to Fork Market