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The 2009 ASHS Annual Conference

Urban Ag, Farmers Markets and Small Farm Use of "Plasticulture" in Oklahoma

Tuesday, July 28, 2009: 10:00 AM
Laclede (Millennium Hotel St. Louis)
James Shrefler, Lane, OK
Keegan Varner, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Lane, OK, Albania
David Sorrell, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, OK
Joe Benton, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, OK
Kelsey McCollum, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, OK
Justin Whitmore, Market Development, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, OK
Micah Anderson, Market Development, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, OK
Small farm produce growing and marketing is exhibiting some distinctly new activity in Oklahoma.  Although farmers’ markets have existed in the state for some time, changes are taking place in numbers markets and in how they are promoted.  The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ODAFF) supports a farmers’ market registration program.  Over the period 2006 to 2009 the number of registered markets has grown from 31 to 60.  Market activities and trends differ somewhat for urban versus rural areas.  Markets in the major urban areas of Tulsa and Oklahoma City have become very poplar and busy entities.  In each case, these cities have several market locations with growers selling products that include organic and ethnic produce items, herbs, baked goods and specialty meat products, to name a few.  In some mid-size cities, markets have existed but are seeing some renewal and growth activity.  In these cases there is both increased interest on the part of sellers and customers.  In Shawnee, a change in the market location probably contributes in-part to the increased activity.  In Stillwater, existing sellers provide adequate produce supplies and newer sellers tend to sell items such as eggs, meats, plants, breads and processed foods.  In smaller rural communities market changes are also varied.  In some towns, true farmers’ markets have not been successful although other retail sales of local produce can be found.  In others, such as Madill and Tishomingo, growers have taken the initiative to establish new markets, often with the assistance of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and municipal development organizations.  Another ODAFF program is called the “Plasticulture program”.  Developed to facilitate the adoption by small farmers of a raised bed, plastic mulch, and drip irrigation production system for vegetables, this program provides cooperators with a 3 year trial period during which be construction and mulch application for up to two acres are provided to the farmer.  The 2009 growing season will be year 3 for this program and growers have been receptive to the concept.  The development of farmers markets and the use of plasticulture technology will be discussed.