June 4, 2013

Farmer's Market grows marketing technique

Jessica Lane, Staff Writer,
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — There are some things that the Chickasha Farmer's Market has kept the same. Still located at the corner of 7th and Chickasha Ave. the market still sells a variety of goods that are certified Oklahoma grown.

However, there are a few changes that are making the outdoor grocer on the corner more accessible.

This year, the Chickasha Farmer's Market started taking advantage of social media. The farmer's market has its own Facebook where updates and news are posted:

The farmer's market has tried to stay progressive, Brook Bradbury, Chickasha Farmer's Market Committee Chair, said. Not all the vendors are cash-only, several are now able to take credit cards. Bradbury said there is one vendor who is working towards being able to take food stamps, WIC vouchers and other assistance programs.

Chickasha Farmer's Market produce prices are about average with local grocery stores, Bradbury said. This helps the farmer's market stay competitive. However, being locally grown, the produce is of much better quality, she said.

Besides produce, patrons can expect to find pecans, homemade salsas and jellies, honey, flowers, horseshoe crafts and handmade soaps. All produce is certified Oklahoma grown, Bradbury said.

There has been a health as well as ecological trend in recent years towards seeking more local options. Bradbury said this has had a positive effect on the farmer's market, as sales have steadily increased.

Reusable bags will be on offer soon, Bradbury said, so that regulars can bring them back instead of using disposable bags.

Cooler season vegetable such as greens, beets, cabbage, onion, potatoes and squash are currently being sold. Due to freezing and severe weather, some of the typical summer produce such as tomatoes and peppers will be available a little later this year. Also due to the weather, fruit will be unlikely this year, Bradbury said.

Chickasha Farmer's Market vendors set up every Tuesday and Saturday morning in the Y parking lot on the corner of 7th St. and Chickasha Ave. The Chickasha Farmer's Market opened the first weekend of May and typically closes in October.

Anyone from Grady and surrounding counties is welcome to be a vendor at the farmer's market. The fee is $25 for the whole season. The fee covers expenses for bags and other supplies.

Selling grown and handmade wares at the farmer's market serves as the main income for some vendors, Bradbury said. The number of vendors has also seen an increase, with about 30 vendors last year. She said there are usually 10 to 15 set up at one time.

Saturday is the biggest day, Bradbury said. There is usually an early rush and then it picks up again around 9 a.m. Tomatoes go fast when they become available, she said.

"The earlier, the better chance you have of getting what you want," she said.

The Chickasha Farmer's Market is part of the Chickasha Main St. Association.