Living the Right Way
Quapaw, OK - While it opened in 2019, the Quapaw Market and Food Hub (QMFH) idea came after a food sovereignty assessment showed Quapaw Nation lacking fresh produce.
Quapaw Nation began looking for a way to fix this problem ultimately leading to a grant with First Nations Development Institute.
"With this grant we were able to purchase tables, chairs, pop up awnings, shelving, decorations/displays, point of sale system and advertising." Said Michelle Bowden.
Michelle was the manager of the QMFH for the first two years before being asked to move up and direct the operation in its entirety.
"The state of Oklahoma recently changed the laws regarding farmers markets so we moved our Mercantile to the Quapaw Farmers Market location and are in the process of rebranding it to the Quapaw Farmers Market and Food Hub. We were able to combine the two locations and offer items for sale throughout the week that the market vendors leave for us to sell on consignment. We also produce vegetable in our market garden that we supply fresh to the Farmers Hub. Any surplus of vegetables we have, that aren’t sold or donated, are preserved using our food preservation equipment."
The Market is also able to offer video tutorials and in-person workshops that focus on gardening and food preservation thanks to grant funding from the Native American Agricultural Fund.
"We offer several food preservations items for rent that includes pressure canner, water bath canner, fermenting crocs, dehydrators, food processor, vacuum sealer, and a freeze dryer. Jars, mylar bags, or vacuum seal bags are included depending on the preservation equipment rented. This is a FREE rental program you only have to put down a $25 refundable deposit. We have had great success in outreach to the community members." Michelle continued.
Quapaw Nations Market and Food Hub currently have two full-time employees and several interns throughout the year, but Michelle has a vision to grow the operations exponentially. When asked what made the QMFH special and if she saw growth in the future, Michelle had this to say, "Our vendors and community make it special. We have a wide variety of items available for sale at the market, from fresh eggs, wine, tamales, hand-crafted soaps and sprays, crafts, in-season vegetables, and much more. I would like to expand our gardens and meat processing to be able to produce food boxes for our Quapaw people in the future."
For everyone involved in the process, this wouldn't be possible without the amazing support from grants. One of those grants comes from kidsgardening.org; which allowed Quapaw Nation (QN) to start a kids garden at the O-Gah-Pah Learning Center. Now QN children are introduced to growing and taking care of a garden. The items they grow will help provide sustenance for the O-Gah-Pah learning center, a truly full circle system.
The value of the Food Market is immeasurable, it supplies meat, fruit, and vegetables to the locals, but it also supplies something that isn't seen much these days; A sense of community pride.
Those interested in getting involved, purchasing some product, or even renting some of the equipment should check out QMFH's Facebook page under "Quapaw Farmers Market."
Don't forget to stop in on weekdays to stock up while supplies last.
The Farmers Market is also ongoing on the 1st and 3rd Fridays from May 21st - October 15th between the hours of 2-6 pm.