Local produce abounds at markets
by Bobby Anderson
It’s a late summer Thursday afternoon at the Farmer’s Market at Central Park in Moore and Dale Roath is defending his honor.
“Is the old boy from Dibble still lying to us?” a customer playfully teases as he walks up to inspect Roath’s vegetable stand.
“He’s hoarding all those tomatoes,” fellow vender Jerry Smith calls out from the next booth.
“Don’t listen to this guy here,” Roath shoots back.
It’s all part of the summertime fun that goes with the farmer’s market.
“I think it’s important to buy local,” Roath said, counting out change from a cucumber sale with the man who had supplied the earlier ribbing. “You get stuff fresh, right out of the garden. Lot of times you go down to the grocery store and you get stuff that’s been shipped from all over the country and a lot of times it’s not the quality you get down here.”
Everything on Roath’s table was planted from seed and raised by him and his wife.
Roath taught science, social studies, coached and was a principal during his 34 years at Dibble Public Schools.
He says the market is a great hobby and truth be known he gives as much ribbing as he gets from vendors and customers who see the value in shopping local.
Next to Roath, Smith is tending to his novelty plants.
“I’ve been doing this so long I had to do something to make some money,” Smith explains of his assortment. “If I sell the same thing everybody else does I can’t sell this time of year. I’ve got something I can sell year-round.
“My stuff is unusual – shrimp plants and plants from all over the world,” Smith said.
Miniature pepper plants, African milk trees – all grown in one of three greenhouses on his five acres.
Smith lives by Lake Thunderbird and says there’s something that just draws people to markets like these.
“The people mostly. I feel it’s like a family out here,” Smith said of the reason he keeps coming back. “It’s something that’s local that brings people out.”
The market runs this year until Sept. 2.
Central Park Special Events Coordinator Teresa Smith says the market tries to stay flexible and affordable to attract local vendors. Rental for a space under the Farmer’s Market Pavilion is just $15 and a discount is given for those who want to pay in advance.
Bathrooms are a stone’s throw away and customers can pull their cars up to within just feet of the vendors.
The pavilion is next to a newly constructed aquatic center that draws hundreds of families daily. Most agree that doesn’t hurt either.
Roath has been coming to the Moore Farmer’s Market for six years. A regular at the Bethany market until it closed, Roath was looking for a good place to land to showcase his wares.
“I’ve really liked it,” Roath said. “I live 35 miles out but it’s easy to get to. It’s a nice facility with this canopy and you don’t have to set up a tent in a parking lot like we did over there. The bathrooms are right here and people can pull right up to the front.
“Over the last six years I’ve met a lot of people and I have the same customers that come back over the last five years.”
A few booths down Bob Sirpless is handing out free tastings from his local Legends Vineyard and Winery.
It’s his second year at Moore.
“It’s value-added,” Sirpless said. “We grown our own grapes and put it into wine. We also do the Norman market and we have some good sales here. It’s not too long and it’s not like going to one of the other shows and spending the whole day driving.”
Like Roath, Sirpless makes the drive on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings.
Moore Assistant City Manager Todd Jenson says the city has offered a farmer’s market for 12 years and it’s become a vital part of the community as it’s passed through six different locations.
“It’s very important. It adds to the quality of life,” Jenson said. “It’s one more event where people get out and meet their neighbors and meet new people.
“Each vendor has its own loyal customers and if they don’t they’ll develop it over time. This is (the farmer’s market’s) home.”
Home’s a good word.
“The people are friendly up here,” Roath said. “I don’t have any problem with competition. Everybody tries to get along and nobody is trying to cut each other’s throat like some markets I’ve seen.”