SENSIBLE SHOPPING: More ways to save money on produce at Tahlequah Farmers' Market

May 14—This season, the Tahlequah Farmers' Market has more options for seniors and SNAP recipients to save money on qualified and nutritious foods.

"Double Up Oklahoma" matches $1 for every $1 spent with the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program benefits on eligible food. The program is through "Hunger Free Oklahoma."

"If you qualify for the SNAP program [you can] use SNAP at the market," said Marla Saeger, president of the board for TFM. "I tell people to use their SNAP on canned goods, breads and things like that, because your double-up tokens are only good on fruits and vegetables."

"Senior cards" were sent out this week, Saeger said, and if a person qualifies by age, income and number of people in the home, the card can be used at any market in the state.

"It's the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program," Saeger said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture administers the SFMNP grants, states the USDA website. It provides low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods at farmers' markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children — ­ WIC — is another program through USDA that provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, states the USDA site.

With the federal WIC program, a vendor must have all foods covered by WIC available for purchase, so only grocery stores can participate in the program, Saeger said.

"But now, Cherokee Nation has a WIC program that is just fruits and vegetables at a farmers' market," Marla said.

The new stage added by the city of Tahlequah to the pavilion on Morgan Street, where the market is held, got moved out of the way for the Saturday, May 13 market.

"They put the stairs on the stage, so it took up the whole corner. Last week, we lost a booth and [one vendor] couldn't drive in," Marla.

The stage will only be used when there is an event. Saeger suggested the city always put it away after an event, since there aren't that many events happening at the pavilion.

Coleen Thornton of Heaven Sent Food and Fiber has added the sale of seeds to her selection of goods. The packaging is attractive and simple.

"We got a seed cleaner this year, so we grow the plants, get them to seed, and clean the seeds so people can grow them in their garden," Thornton said.

The focus in the seed selection is for plants that are good for pollinators, Thornton said.

Egyptian onions — commonly called walking onions, because of their unusual propagation method — were sold at Misfit Produce's table.

Misfit Produce owners Samantha Christie-White and Colin White sell fresh produce and prepared foods.

"We are expanding — we are going to make some hard candies this year," Samantha said. "With our fresh fruits and mint. And we make pickles out of yellow squash; you can't tell the difference."

Brooke and Benjamin Berry of Burning Bush Farm offered fresh kombucha in two flavors: pineapple and black cherry.

"It's a probiotic tea made from black tea, cane sugar, the mothers, and black cherry juice we buy, and we make it fresh every week," Brooke said. "It helps gut health. It's good for your pH balance."

Brian Conway of Longshadows Ranch, is 17 years old and promoted a favored cause, "Bee Cause Project." The motto of the program is, "Help save the bees one school at a time."

"They provide grants to schools to help them set up beehives to teach their students," Conway said. "Most of the profit from the honey goes to the [grantor] to keep doing the grants for the schools."

Microgreens and fresh-milled flour are two products sold by Jessica Davis of Wellspring Farm.

"The grains are not Oklahoma grown, but I'm working on that, and I mill the [grains] just before market," Davis said.

It can be daunting to change one's diet, Davis said. A good way to eat extra vegetables at meals is adding sunflower or other greens to a sandwich.

What's next

June 8, interfacing with Oklahoma Nutrition, Information, and Education Project event. ONIE is bringing someone to do sampling, a scavenger hunt is scheduled, and gifts for fathers can be won. It will be held in conjunction with the TFM that day. The Tahlequah Farmers' Market is held on most Saturdays during the season through Oct. 26, 2024, 8 a.m. to noon at the pavilion on Morgan Street across from Norris Park.