Drought Proves To Be Force Behind Vendors, Buyers at Farmers Market

It's week 1 of the 2011 Farmers Market in downtown Wichita Falls.  Although it's only been open a couple days, we wanted to know which is a more significant force -- the recent drought for the farmers, or rising food prices for the buyers.

"I think we're all hungry for some really wonderful, fresh, great-tasting produce."

"Everybody's craving fresh."

"I come to get green tomatoes every year."

That's what people had to say early this morning at the farmer's market.  And speaking of early, producer Terry Parks has been up since 5 a.m. -- yesterday.

"After workin' all day yesterday, I had to drive back to east Texas to reload for the rest of the week 'cause I ran out of stuff," he said.

Two days is all it took for him to sell out.  Normally it takes three or four.  So why the veggie frenzy?  Believe it or not, it may not be due to the high food prices in the grocery store.  

"I know I'll be here more often, and I don't know that it's because of the rising food prices; it's because of the quality of the produce that's here," said buyer Dawn Latour.

Parks says the drought has given local growers somewhat of an advantage.  They're able to keep their food fresher than the produce that's shipped to grocery stores.

"It has been awesome.  I mean I've been jumpin', runnin', just as fast as I can to get stuff fixed on the table," he said.

"These guys grow the best vegetables around," said buyer Harold Stucki.

But it's not all good news. Despite the delicious looking peaches, tomatoes, and onions on display, you won't see items like peas or okra yet.

"Some of it is just not comin' off right now.  It's runnin' late because of no water," Parks said.

While the farmer's market pavilion might not be very crowded until Saturday, Parks will no doubt be keeping busy.

"Won't no one have to rock me to sleep, I promise you that!" he said.

The farmers market at 8th and Ohio is open Tuesdays through Saturdays during spring and summer months.  You can usually find vendors ready to sell between 7 am and 5 PM.

Spencer Blake, Newschannel 6