Saturday mornings are all abuzz in downtown Grove as tables of vegetables and flowers and baked goods, soaps and crafts lure shoppers interested in buying local.
The Grove Farmer’s market is held on the community center lawn from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. A Wednesday market is also held with not quite as many vendors.
“Saturday is our big day,” said Cheryl Franklin, who oversees the market for The Grove Area Merchants Association
The GAMA recently merged into the Grove Area Chamber with the establishment of the chamber’s retail committee.
Most Saturdays you might also find musicians, traditionally acoustic guitar players entertaining the visitors as they walk along shopping.
While the farmers’ market has an abundance of vegetable farmers selling their fresh picked produce, you will also find other things.
“Four State Honey is one example of a value added agricultural product,” Franklin said. ‘People love their honey, and they are one of the largest producers in the Midwest.”
Baked goods can always be found on Saturdays at the market and most of the time on Wednesday. Ramer Bakery bakes up an assortment of fruit pies (including sugar free), breads, cookies and more.
“One of the things I like about this market is a lot of the tourists coming into town and they’re always happy, and they’re vacationing and they like to buy food,” said Clarissa Ramer. “I enjoy meeting new people and there’s lot of them that come through here.”
It’s tomato season, and there is an abundance at the market among other things. At this time of the year most of the vegetables are grown outside but some of the vendors also have high tunnels to extend their growing season.
Growing veggies is a family affair for most of the vendors and families can be seen helping out at their tables.
Other non-vegetable vendors include homemade goat milk soap made by local farmer Dori Smith with milk from her own goats.
Dr. Leonard Miller frequents the market with the Japanese maples and Patti Betts always has some handmade crocheted kitchen items for sale.
One of the most unique vendors is Diamond Head Wine. Clyde Mickle of Pryor offers a wide variety of wine at the market.
“We’ve been making wine for a long time, in the backyard, my ancestors made wine forever,” Mickle said. “It’s kinda in the blood.”
Mickle said his venture started after he retired and he made wine at home and people liked it and people encouraged him to get a license and sell it.
Mickle said all the berries are hand-picked in northeast Oklahoma. He either raised the berries, picks them wild or acquires them from neighbors and friends locally, he said.
“This year the late freeze got the sand plums, and that was one of our big sellers. It looks like the elderberries are going to do really good,” he said.
All of the wine made is from fruit and berries, there are no grape wines made at Diamond Head Wine.
“Fruit and berry wines don’t have the tannin the grape wines have, the tannnin and the preservatives they put in the wine is what I understand gives you that wine headache,” Mickle said.
Mickle says because he doesn’t use preservatives in his wine so he raises the alcohol content up to about 17.5 percent, some 18 or higher.
“You don’t have worry about it ever going bad,” he said. “You can open a bottle of my wine six months from now and it will still be good. I’ve never had a bottle of wine go bad.”
With help from family, Diamond Head Wine can be seen at area farmer markets and festivals around Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas selling elderberry wine, blueberry wine, blackberry wine and even banana wine and mead.
“Every year I do one wine that is entirely off the wall,” he said. “Last year I did a coffee wine, this year I did a banana wine and no telling what I’m going to do next year.”
Each bottle of Diamond Head Wine has a Homegrown Heroes label. The label serves to inform consumers that agricultural products donning the logo were produced by U.S. military veterans, which Mickle is one, serving in
With such a variety of vendors the market, a need for volunteers to come help oversee the market on Saturdays is encouraged.
The market staff is also looking for volunteers who would like to add something special to the market.
“We would love to have people from local organizations come and do demonstrations, quilters, anything to do with how to preserve your food or make healthy food choices,” Franklin said.
Vendors must grow or make the products they sell.
On Saturday, August 8, a tomato recipe contest will be held. The public is invited to bring their best tomato recipe, tomato pie, tomato salsa, tomato salad, anything made with the main ingredient of tomatoes.
A cash prize of $25 will be given the to the best recipe as determined by a panel of judges. For additional information you can contact the Grove Farmer’s Market staff through their Facebook page.
An artisan market is planned for later in the season, watch the Facebook page for details.
TOMATO RECIPE CONTEST
SATURDAY, AUG 8
The public is invited to bring their best tomato recipe, tomato pie, tomato salsa, tomato salad, anything made with the main ingredient of tomatoes.
No need to register just show up by 9 a.m. with your dish. Judging will be done and prizes awarded at 10 a.m.
A farmer market basket will be awarded to the winner.