LOCUST GROVE — Sam’s Corner is the name of an intersection a few miles west of Locust Grove.
Once upon a time, there were stores at opposite corners of the intersection. There was a taxidermy business and a mini-zoo.
Sam’s Corner, with buildings vacant, has all but faded away.
But Jennifer’s garden, located not far away, is very much in the news.
Actress Jennifer Garner has been making the media rounds to promote Once Upon a Farm, an organic, emphasis-on-fresh baby food company she co-founded.
As the public face and chief brand officer of the company, she made recent guest appearances on a slew of television programs (among them: “CBS Sunday Morning,” “Good Morning America” and “The View”) to spread the word about Once Upon a Farm products.
In doing so, Garner generated publicity for Oklahoma.
What’s the connection?
Garner was raised in West Virginia, but her mother, Patricia English, is a graduate of Locust Grove High School and was raised on a farm near the Mayes County town.
Garner has often expressed pride about her family’s small-town roots. At a 2013 Save the Children event, she accepted an award on behalf of her parents and said her grandmother crossed the country in a covered wagon, married at 14 and raised a large family in a one-room house in Locust Grove in the height of the dust bowl depression.
Garner is returning to her roots.
A Locust Grove-area farm — the site where her mother grew up — is going to be one of the farms where produce will be grown for Once Upon a Farm. She said an uncle who lives there will farm the property.
Conor Knighton of “CBS Sunday Morning” tagged along with Garner on a visit to Locust Grove for a filmed segment that aired July 15. When Knighton asked Garner why it was important for her to have the family farm be part of the Once Upon a Farm operation, she said, “First of all, if I had any idea how happy it would make my mom to be part of bringing this little farm back to life, I would have done it 10 times over. But your family just has a connection to the land that has raised them. I wanted the business to be connected to my family.”
Garner also mentioned the Locust Grove farm while appearing on a 45-minute Facebook live video with Martha Stewart. The positive exposure is appreciated.
“I find this to be an awesome opportunity for Locust Grove,” said Jennifer Henson, president of the Locust Grove Arts Alliance. “We have so many talented people here. We have been working diligently to revitalize our town and attract more tourism.”
During the “Good Morning America” appearance, Garner told the hosts her mother grew up on an Oklahoma farm and added this: “She always made my sisters and I everything homemade, from scratch, the old-fashioned way. When I had my kids, I made their homemade baby food, but you don’t always have time. It’s so frustrating.”
Garner didn’t like it when she had to feed her children baby food that seemed “disgusting” and perhaps older than the baby.
Garner told Stewart that Once Upon a Farm baby food is as fresh as it can possibly be apart from making it yourself.
“That’s how baby food should be,” Garner said. “Normally, you say, ‘Baby food, gross.’ But this, I would eat. You would eat (it). You would put it in your yogurt. You would have it as a snack. And you should want to eat the food you feed your baby.”
Ingredients are basic. Garner indicated you can trace every ingredient back to the farm where it was grown. The plan is to grow persimmons, kale and blueberries at the Locust Grove farm.
“As a mom of three and Save the Children artist ambassador, I am passionate about childhood nutrition and making sure we are leaving a healthier and happier planet for the next generation,” Garner said in a Once Upon a Farm press release from 2017.
“Once Upon a Farm helps parents keep their promise to deliver the best nourishment for their children’s bodies and souls.”
Once Upon a Farm products (they’re cold-pressed) can be found in the refrigerated section of grocery stores. Walmart, Target, Sprouts and Whole Foods Market are among stores that carry the brand. Stores that offer Once Upon a Farm products can be found by accessing the “where to buy” section of onceuponafarmorganics.com.