The barn at Old MacDonald’s Farm can be seen May 8, 2024, at Bever Park in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The city’s longtime Noelridge Park farmers market is relocating to the entrance of the petting zoo farm this season. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

By Cindy Hadish/for the Corridor Business Journal

The real estate adage – location, location, location – is equally important for the success of farmers markets, with several in the area changing sites this season in search of greener pastures.

A longtime farmers market held for decades at Noelridge Park in northeast Cedar Rapids is moving this year to the more centrally located Bever Park, in the southeast quadrant.

Cathy Cropp-Scanlon, who manages the market for the city of Cedar Rapids, said 15 growers and other vendors had registered for the farmers market, which will be located at the entrance to Old MacDonald’s Farm, a free petting zoo featuring farm animals. The markets, from 4-6 p.m. Wednesdays, will be open June 5 through Sept. 25.

Find info on more than 50 Eastern Iowa farmers markets on the Homegrown Iowan Farmers Market list.

“We moved the market to Old MacDonald’s Farm in hopes of revitalizing it, both in number of vendors and customers,” Cropp-Scanlon said, noting Old MacDonald’s Farm averages 300 visitors per day, along with walkers, joggers and other park patrons. “The farm is much more accessible than the busy Noelridge corner (at the high-traffic Collins Road and Council Street) and we are able to tie in our programming with the market.”

The market operates separately from the large-scale Downtown Farmers Market in Cedar Rapids, featuring 200 vendors, with an average of 12,000 customers at each market.

Customers make their way through the Downtown Farmers Market on opening day last year. Some markets are relocating this season in hopes of increasing foot traffic, but the popular downtown market will remain in its namesake location in Cedar Rapids. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

That market will remain at its namesake site downtown, with opening day on May 25, but even newer farmers markets are in search of just the right spot.

Market Manager Jane Stevens said the Robins farmer market, in its second year, is moving from its inaugural Main Street location to South Troy Park.

The park offers increased green space, more parking, public restrooms and easy access from the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, Stevens noted, “all issues we struggled with at last year’s market location.”

“We believe the park is a much better fit for this wonderful community event,” she said.

In neighboring Benton County, the Belle Plaine farmers market is moving from its site in front of the Belle Plaine Area Museum to the parking lot of the Ice House, off of Highway 21, which organizers hope offers the potential for better turnout.

A similar situation is taking place in Fairfax, which is moving its Monday night markets next to its sports complex, at 625 Linn St., with the goal of more foot traffic.

Joe Kell, with the city’s Parks & Recreation Department, which operates the farmers market, said a previous site in the library parking lot drew some locals, but moving it to an area of higher activity will hopefully attract more customers.

“They will naturally have more people because of that,” he said of customers for the 10 or so vendors who signed up to sell at this season’s markets.

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The city of Cedar Rapids is moving its farmers market from Noelridge Park to a new site at the entrance of Old MacDonald’s Farm in Bever Park. (photo/Cindy Hadish)