In Spring of 2020, leaders of Afton, Oklahoma, reached out to the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for Quality Communities (IQC) for assistance for a project to create a Farmer’s Market at the Park. They sought to turn the former Afton City Hall building into a Farmer’s Market and community space. The IQC collaborated with the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture’s Division of Interior Design to complete this project. College faculty, Mia Kile, Tracy Scott-Howard, and Dr. Bryce Lowery, then integrated the project into a studio course.
The Afton area has been designated a food desert by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The town’s closest food source that accepts SNAP benefits is three miles away. The community aimed to create a space where Afton residents as well as members of surrounding communities and Route 66 travelers could visit and buy food. They prioritized flexible interior features, durable and affordable construction, maximizing uses, connection to Afton history and culture, and connection to the surrounding outdoor space.
While community leaders’ main goal was to create a farmer’s market and food source for the area, they also wanted to create a space that could be used for other community programs and events, such as pop-up health clinics, commercial and demonstration kitchens, and craft courses.
Students were divided into five teams, each creating a design proposal for the interior space, which also included programming suggestions and connections to the surrounding outdoor park. Each team met with the Afton community leaders to discuss the project and determine what the town prioritized most. The students then looked at other communities’ farmer’s markets for precedent. Their final proposals included a 20-30 minute video of their final presentation, a board PDF, and a detailed project binder. These project binders totaled nearly 600 pages of compiled work!
Following the final design presentations, the OU IQC and Afton teams identified future steps for the project. This included building support among Afton residents, continuing to develop local partnerships, applying for funding and grants, and seeking out additional technical design work by licensed professionals.
The work done by the IQC, OU Interior Design Students, and Afton community leaders has contributed significantly to solving the food desert in Afton, Oklahoma.
OU Students Involved in Afton Project:
You can view the entire Afton Report, including OU students’ design boards below!