By Doug Walton
Fresh at the Market
Early season rains are helping to top off ponds and recharge irrigation wells for local farmers, including those who sell produce at the Muskogee Farmers’ Market or through other farm-fresh venues such as Arnold’s Fruit Stand and the Peach Barn.
Every growing season brings with it a mystery about what the weather will do and how all the various crops will respond. From backyard growers to market gardeners, truck farmers or large-scale producers, they’re all at the mercy of Mother Nature, and each hopeful that they will be graced with favorable growing conditions.
Warmer temps combined with continued rainfall will help the growth of many crops, including the weeds, which are especially hard to deal with in wet fields.
Fresh cucumbers are one mainstay summer crop that many local growers are already bringing in to the Muskogee Farmers’ Market so long as their fields aren’t too wet to get into.
Shoppers will also find a wide variety of other locally-grown produce such as arugula, asparagus, beets, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collard greens, garlic, green beans, green onions, green tomatoes, greenhouse tomatoes, honey, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, new potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, snow peas, sugar snap peas, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, turnips and yellow wax beans. Plus, a few farmers now have yellow squash and zucchini.
Growers also will be selling fresh-cut herbs like cilantro, dill and basil; cut-flower bouquets and many types of vegetable and herb transplants for the garden or patio, as well as bedding plants, water plants and other items.
Other food items available at the market include farm-fresh free-range eggs, various cuts of frozen grass-fed Dexter beef, Lovera's hand-formed cheese, dried herbs and spices, honey, handmade tortillas, tamales and burritos, plus hot dogs, polish sausages and chicken dogs with grilled veggies and all the fixings.
Vendors also will be there with jewelry and other handcrafted items including chunks of hickory, pecan and fruitwood for smoking, candles, soaps, incense, natural body care products, pet treats and more.
The Muskogee County Master Gardeners will be on hand with fact sheets and tips on how to grow healthy plants and gardens. On most Saturdays, B.J. Charbonneau will teach free Tai Chi classes near the bandshell and lawn area next to the market at about 10 a.m., weather permitting.
SNAP benefits (food stamps) are accepted at the farmers market. Customers wishing to purchase eligible foods with their Oklahoma Access card can visit the farmers market tent, swipe their card in exchange for tokens, and shop with vendors offering qualified items, which also include food-bearing plants. Today and on most Wednesdays, OSU nutrition educators will be at the market fixing simple, affordable and healthy meal and snack ideas with free samples and recipes, featuring items fresh from the market. Demonstrations at today’s market will feature cucumbers and other fresh produce from the market.
2 medium-size cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 green onion (green or red), sliced (and chopped if large onion)
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 teaspoons olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
In a medium bowl, stir together vinegar, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in sesame seeds, and reduce heat to medium. Cook until seeds are brown, about five minutes. Scrape seeds and oil into vinegar mixture and stir. Mix in cucumber, green onions, and carrot. Cover, and refrigerate at least five minutes, but stir well before serving.
Information: Doug Walton, (918) 360-2012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
WHAT: Muskogee Farmers Market.
WHEN: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday; 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.
WHERE: Muskogee Civic Center, 425 Boston St.