NOT THAT LONG AGO…
Started in 1998, the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market sprung from the kernel of an idea — that local, seasonal, and sustainable food is better tasting and better for you—that has continued to grow in scope and size not only in Tulsa but also around the nation. Several Tulsans recognized early on the need for such an entity, including Marilyn Ihloff, Susan Simmons, Susan Gray, Jim East, and Richard Groenendyke. With much grassroots support, they worked to bring Cherry Street business owners, area farmers, and Tulsa shoppers together to create a market at which promoting local interests coincides with providing quality foodstuffs. Many of the original vendors are still vendors today.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
As the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market has grown—up from a handful of vendors in the late 1990s to close to 90 today—it has gained widespread support from the community at large. Located in Lincoln Plaza from 1998 to 2009, the Market moved to Cherry Street in 2010 with the strong support of market goers, merchants, and the city council. Occupying East 15th Street from South Quaker to South Rockford, the Market has continued to expand, accommodating more vendors and offering more products.
The Cherry Street Farmers’ Market is a purely Oklahoma Grown market, which means all agricultural products must be grown or raised in Oklahoma. We are also a 100% producer market: all agricultural products are grown or raised by the farmer/vendor selling at the market, and over 75% of our vendors are farmers. This eliminates the need for middle men and ensures that the products offered are fresh, local, and sustainable.
ONWARD & UPWARD
In 2004, the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market began to offer a Wednesday market located at the Tulsa Garden Center. In 2007, the Wednesday market moved to the Brookside area and now resides in the Food Pyramid parking lot at the northeast corner of 41st and Peoria. Our Wednesday market hosts about 20 vendors and serves hundreds of customers. Our original Saturday market is also still going strong; it boasts around 60 vendors and serves thousands of customers each week during the market season, April to October.
The Cherry Street Farmers’ Market is a not-for-profit venture, overseen by a volunteer board consisting of vendors and community members. The board crafts market policy, accepts new vendors, supervises market operations, and manages the finances of the market. The day-to-day market operations are handled by a Market Manager, Assistant Market Manager, and Program Coordinator.
In 2011, the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market was awarded the Henry Bellmon Award for Sustainability for People. It was also voted Oklahoma’s Favorite Farmers’ Market by the America Farmland Trust.