Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Farmers Markets in Oklahoma: Commerce at the Mercy of Mother Nature

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Farmers Markets in Oklahoma: Commerce at the Mercy of Mother Nature

Article excerpt

Donna Vogelpohl started the downtown Tulsa Farmers' Market a year and a half ago hoping to bring local flavor to the business community.

She didn't anticipate an uphill battle against Mother Nature and road work.

"The noise started, and the construction started and then there was dust and then the rain began - the great gardens I know were rained out," she said. "Some people talked like everything was wonderful, but no, it was terrible."

The hardships took their toll on the market, and Vogelpohl said some farmers couldn't provide any products because their crops were rained out. Still, the market did some business, prompting the return this year to its spot at Third Street and Boston Avenue.

Vogelpohl said several potential vendors were concerned about how profitable a downtown market would be. She said many farmers hadn't worked downtown and didn't know how the workers would store their food until they went home. Vogelpohl said she convinced the farmers it wouldn't become an issue because most offices have a refrigerator.

This year the market had a slow start in May, but Vogelpohl said it started to pick up when people saw a consistent number of vendors.

"It's a balancing act - if you don't have farmers you'll never have the market," she said. "It's kind of like Field of Dreams, if you build it they will come. You have to get vendors interested in the market and then the customers will show up."

Even with all of the obstacles, Vogelpohl said she never had any doubt there would be customers coming from the business community downtown. She said she remembers working in downtown years ago and being bored at lunchtime because of the few things to do and see.

"Taking vegetables to downtown Tulsa to me seemed like one of those things that would work," she said. "It meshes a nice connection between people who work in offices and people who grow gardens."

Vogelpohl said it's been hard work to put together the market, but said she is determined to keep it flourishing.

"It's a lot harder then people think - weather affects everything," she said. "Our Native American casinos don't know anything about gambling. …

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