Lawton Farmer’s Market Collaborates with CU
The Cameron University Department of Agriculture and Biological Sciences is uniting with the Lawton Farmers Market (LFM) to plant two new opportunities for the community to engage in agriculture.
During the summer, the LFM is typically located in the parking area of the Great Plains Coliseum, but this year, Southwest Oklahoma Growers Association board president Dr. Ed Legako and others affiliated with the market decided to also host a winter market at CU.
Department of Agriculture and Biological Sciences professor Dr. Leon Fischer said students in the department and in Aggie Club play a role in the two initiatives.
The first initiative, Fischer said, is for the Cameron University Animal Sciences Complex to be the LFM’s location during the winter.
Community members can purchase produce at the winter market from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. each Saturday from Nov. 5-March 31 at the facility located on Southwest 38th Street, south of Dr. Elsie Hamm Drive and the railroad crossing.
According to okgrown.com, the LFM offers a wide array of fresh fruits, vegetables and plant materials. Some of the items they offer include salad greens, herbs, honey, watermelons, peaches, farm-fresh eggs, meats, cut flowers and Made-In-Oklahoma products.
Fischer said the LFM affiliates contacted him last fall, looking for an inside structure where they could host the market. He received approval for the initiative from Cameron University President John McArthur.
“In April,” Fischer said, “they will go back to Great Plains Coliseum and renew that location as the site of the LFM weekly.”
Fischer also said the students in the department have been a helping hand at the winter market, and visitors have purchased items from Aggie Club members.
The proceeds from these sales finance a portion of the department’s spring awards banquet.
“The Aggie Club has set up tables down there,” he said, “selling coffee and donuts and selling t-shirts and caps. … It allows them to interact with private citizens of Lawton and customers of the market, and it gives them some leadership skills, people skills [and] communication skills.”
The second of the two initiatives, Fischer said, is a free, open-to-the-public education series, a collaborative activity between the Cameron University Agricultural Sciences Department and the LFM Institute, a non-profit organization.
Community members of all ages can attend the weekly Saturday classes, beginning at 9 a.m., from Feb. 11-April 25 at the Agriculture Facility.
The first class on Feb. 11 featured Nealis Bradshaw of the LFM Institute, who discussed “Seed Starting and Tomato Planting.” Fischer said each seminar will present a different speaker and topic.
“We had 56 people in attendance at that first session,” Fischer said. “After the classroom session, we went back into our prep room in our greenhouse area and actually allowed the participants, local people from the Lawton area, to actually plant a bunch of tomato seeds.”
Fischer said the students in the department are currently taking care of the participants’ tomato plants on a weekly basis.
“Over the next four to six weeks we’ll get those sprouting,” he said, “and those participants [will] get a dozen or half a dozen tomatoes. … that they can take home and plant in their backyard garden.”
Upcoming speakers and topics include “You Want to Raise Chickens: Backyard Chickens 101” with Melanie Nordeen on March 4, “Healthy Eating at the Farmers Market: A Food Demo” with Ashley Lazerini on March 11, “Growing Healthy Microgreens” with Dale Robinson and “Basic Canning and Food Preservation” with Angela Howard on March 25.
Fischer believes educating students and community members is vital to the sustainability of agriculture and the thriving of food production in southwest Oklahoma.
“I’ve been in agriculture and crop production all my life,” he said. “One of my passions right now is trying to provide science-based education on social media to fight all that false information.”
“We need people … in communication and in media telling the true story on what we do in agriculture,” he said.
For more information about the two initiatives, including the Winter Market and the educational series, contact the LFM Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the LFM Facebook page.