One glimpse of her yellow, brown and button-accented apron encasing the junior waitstaffer and I was smitten – dually smitten with the wearer, as well as the space within which she was ringing up a coffee for me and a “Dublin Dr. Pepper” for my husband.
We were standing at the counter of 116 Farmstead Market & Table on soft open day. Nestled between several historical downtown Luther, Okla. structures, the new business was populated with the owners, their children, the store manager, and several walk-ins who had come with well-wishes to “see what they’ve done with the place.”
As someone who has had a fairly rigorous education of the disappearing downtowns across Oklahoma, I’m especially glad to see any lifegiving effort begin to turn that trend around. And knowing this particular project was generated by those I knew to be thoughtful and conscientious about their plans, and how they can go about adding good to their world, I asked Matthew Winton for a few thoughts at the end of their first day.
Q: When you stand in 116 Farmstead Market & Table, sun shining, breezes blowing through the new store, what goes through your mind?
It’s difficult to quantify what it means to see my wife, kids, Angela, friends and family gathered together at 116. Sometimes it diminishes things to define them. I’ll try [to quantify]:
I saw people serving one another literally and figuratively. I saw neighbors treating others as they want to be treated – kindness, sharing, love. I heard the stories of people who had lived in Luther all their lives trying their best in 15 minutes to sum up what it meant for them to grow up in that place.
For us, it isn’t so much a philosophical proposition as it is a spiritual one. The purpose of 116 is to nourish soul through body. You likely experience this as an educator with your students, although your experience is nourishment of soul through mind. It’s the same thing in my thinking. I experience it in my law practice, parents experience it in parenting their children, and on. This may be getting too esoteric, but it really is the purpose behind 116. We seek to [meet] a community need, which is a place to eat and buy groceries, but the purpose is simply to create a space for people to intersect and share their stories. If we are ambassadors, then 116 is our embassy.
Q: I understand you’re open Tuesday through Saturday, and your grand opening is coming up soon. What information would you like others to know about your store or what to expect?
The full open for 116 will be Saturday, June 4. Store hours will be: Tues-Fri, 7-3 and Sat., 8-5. We will modify these as we learn the needs of the community. Angela Hilliard is the manager (there is a great story behind how our paths crossed and other cool intricacies to how she joined us, but I’ll save that for the first Luther Speaks event).
The goal is to provide locally grown or produced meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables. Of course, there are a number of items not produced locally, such as coffee and tea, so we use local roasters and wholesalers for these items. We want to tell the story of the farms and farmers/ranchers who produce these items.
As producers of all natural beef, we never get tired of sharing what is a daily work with those for whom we produce food. We believe we were created from dirt, are tasked with caring for the dirt, and want to share that story with others. The 116 is our attempt to provide a beautiful space for that story to be told.
Wendell Berry once said that ‘eating is an agricultural act;’ he called it an ‘annual drama.’ The 116 Farmstead Market and Table is a stage for that drama to be shown and told, from the Market where producers’ products and stories are shared, to “Luther Speaks” nights, which are opportunities (think: Moth Radio Hour but Luther style) to tell stories about the land, the people, and what they produce together.
The Table is a chance to enjoy a seasonal menu of breakfast and lunch items made from what is sold in the Market.
It seems culture tells us we can have everything all the time, which we know can’t be true. It is true, though, that we are all tied by place. Today was a great experience of that truth – from the Luther High Class of 1960 to those who had never been to Luther before…everyone has a story to tell and the 116 is a place to slow down and share those stories.
Social media is great for information, but connection really happens over a cup of coffee or sharing a meal face to face, spilling drinks, seeing people’s kids run around without pants on, looking at beautiful works of art, slowing down for a moment. This isn’t pretending life is all okay; it is reconnecting if but for a moment to place, and toil, and dirt.
Please plan a trip down highway 66 to visit the 116 Farmstead Market & Table. Please take the time to sit, connect and enjoy your time with the good folks who are creating this shared community story with their new business; spend time looking through all the elements on the mural hanging over their door. Make sure to ask about their 2nd floor space, and event areas. Read much more information than I can share by visiting their website. And by all means, find out when the first “Luther Speaks” event will take place so we can all attend and listen.
But more than anything, take moments to “nourish your soul and your body,” when visiting 116, and every day. I’m pretty sure we all want that for you.