Ogden’s Farmer’s and Art Market (OF&AM) has come a long way since its beginning in 2000. From a humble dirt filled lot to today’s sprawling, colorful market that fills Ogden Municipal Park and trails down Historic 25th street, the Market hasn’t wavered from its commitment to providing a healthy and fresh alternative to grocery stores, and allowing regional artists and crafters an opportunity to share their work with customers. This year, the Market’s official opening is July 11th, but the past two weekends have offered a limited, early bird market for happy shoppers.
Whether it’s a first trip to OF&AM or a hundredth, the first order of business is parking. There are a limited number of spots on the block of 25th street between Washington and Grant, as many of those spots are reserved for vendors, but great spots abound off the block. Early birds often park in the Ogden City Municipal Court parking lot. This backs up to the park itself and offers easy access to vendor booths. Parking is also available in the District Court lot, and the “Electric Alley” parking area between 24th and 25th Streets. Be respectful of traffic and parking laws, though—don’t block fire lanes, driveways, or lines of sight for drivers. Getting a parking ticket is no way to start your Saturday! Late arrivers might have to park a block or two away, but a stroll down 25th street, with its many shops and restaurants, is no hardship.
The heart of the Market is its farmers, of course. This early in the season, you might expect fresh, locally grown produce to be limited; thanks to our early, hot spring and hothouses, though, there is already an abundance of lettuces, kale, chard, herbs, beans, and even some very early tomatoes. Local vendor Forrest Allred, of Allred’s Produce, has been coming to the market for at least 7 years. He cites several reasons that he keeps coming back to Ogden’s market, among them the opportunity to support his local community, enjoyment in seeing all the people, and a chance to sell some of the excess produce from his ½ acre garden. When asked why he thinks farmer’s markets are currently booming, he quickly answers: “Quality. Quality of produce and comparable prices to the grocery store.”
His answer was echoed by many of the farmers, including Jed Littlefield and his wife Alisa. Their CSA (community supported agriculture) farm, Little Field Farm, has been thriving for the same reasons; for the past 4 years they have been coming to OF&AM to sell their excess produce. Jed also cited variety as a reason for shoppers to support their local farmers. Supermarkets tend to buy single variety, highly transportable fruits and vegetables; a local farmer, not having to consider shippability, often has the luxury of growing exotic crops or more delicate varieties of fruits and vegetables.
This year, the benefits of a varied and fresh diet are more readily available than ever to users of Utah’s Horizon Card. In an effort to support healthy lifestyles, all of the farmers at OF&AM are accepting food stamps this year. In order to use the EBT benefits at the Market, the individual who is covered will need to visit the OF&AM booth, located right at the corner of 25th street and Grant in front of the red caboose.
Once the individual decides how much of their benefit they intend to use, their card will be run and they will be given wooden tokens to spend at the individual booths. This year, the program is offering to “Match What You Spend” in EBT: you spend a dollar for food stamp eligible food and it will be matched with another dollar’s worth of food. It’s a great deal!
“I started coming to the market to continue my habit.” Karen Mason of Silver Ware Jewelry laughs. “I have to sell stuff if I want to continue making it.” Many of the artists of the OF&AM were similarly passionate about their crafts. Karen has been attending the market since at least 2006, she says, and wouldn’t miss it for anything. Like Forrest Allred, she enjoys the social aspect of the market and the opportunity to interact with customers personally. Karen also feels a sense of local pride. When she first started selling at the market, 25th street was still struggling to emerge from its shady past; Karen laughs when she recalls that her nephew insisted on attending the market with her for the first couple of years, out of fear for his aunt’s safety. Now she points out the beauty of 25th street and notes that she is there shopping, dining, or just looking around at least two or three times a week.
Other vendors, including first timers James and Brenda Hess of Rundown Rustics, were similarly pleased by Saturday’s market. The Hesses were approached at the Park Silly Market and encouraged to try Ogden’s market, and they are well pleased with the exposure the Market offers their handcrafted items. Though 25th street is lovely, week to week vendors are hoping that they will be allowed to remain near the farmers: “The farmers are the cash register; I’m the pack of gum,” one vendor remarked. Proximity to the fresh vegetables is often key to an artist being able to make a living at their craft. This year’s Market already has vendors in handcrafted jewelry, clothing, bath essentials, kitchen goods, and pottery—imagine all of the options that will be available at the full Market!
Feeling hungry? The OF&AM has you covered there, too. From Volker’s bread and pastries, to Daily Rise coffee, fudge, Korean food, gyros, baby back ribs, and Pink Drink, the OF&AM has something for everyone. Though some vendors have become Saturday morning staples for Market shoppers, each week brings new surprises. Godfrey Bey of Get It Ribs was enjoying his first day at OF&AM. On Saturday, he was offering delicious ribs, but he will soon be offering catfish sandwiches and other delicacies. A 7 year resident of Ogden, he was drawn to the Market because a similar market on Harrison Boulevard failed to catch the attention of shoppers. Chatty and happy, he offered the opinion that the Market was a friendly energetic place to spend a Saturday morning.
After you’ve bought your produce and handicrafts and eaten your fill of a delicious breakfast, lunch, or snack, you’re still not finished! OF&AM always has a few street performers—recently, didgeridoo players, guitarists, and singers—and a slate of acoustic performers will start this weekend. There are community booths for entities like the Ogden Nature Center, The Ogden Symphony Ballet Association, Ogden Trails Network, and various animal charities. Many weeks of the regular season have a theme: Pioneer Days and a focus on farmers (including a petting zoo) are popular local favorites. There are face painting and snow cones for the kids, a playground in the park, and public restrooms are available at the Ogden Amphitheater. There’s just no reason not to go to Ogden’s Farmers & Art Market this summer, at least several times! The market runs from 8 am to 1 pm, July 11-Sept 26. Don’t miss it!
There are a couple special market days coming up, with extended hours and additional activities.
July 11th, “Wild West Days” market runs from 8 am to 3 pm and features a root beer saloon, wild west shoot outs and more.
July 18th, “Farm Day in the City” market runs from 8 am to 3 pm and will have a variety of farm animals and tractors on site to educate locals about farm life and practices.
Each week of the market features live music, check ogdenfarmersmarket.com for schedule of musicians and other activities.
*Guest post by local writer Autumn B.