Changes are underway at farmers markets in the Corridor, as the outdoor season kicks off in May.
One longtime market is ending, while others that arose in the wake of the pandemic are on the rise.
The Mount Vernon Farmers Market, a mainstay in Mount Vernon for about two decades, decided to end its run this year, including both its indoor and outdoor markets.
“It was not an easy decision to make, but hopefully in the future, others will be able to structure a new market,” said Laura Strabala, who managed the farmers market with Rick and Trude Elliott. “There are a lot of wonderful, creative entrepreneurs in the area and a small market of some sort is a great way to ease into the realm of operating a business without becoming overwhelmed.”
Ms. Strabala has seen both sides, as she and her sister started as young vendors in 2007, selling jams, herbs, fresh produce and more.
She cited scheduling conflicts and lack of availability for others to step into a management role in the decision to close, and thanked the First Street Community Center – both the indoor and outdoor site for the market – for serving as “home” to the market for the past several years.
“We cannot say enough good things about the support received and kindness shown to the market, the customers and the vendors,” she said.
In Iowa City, the farmers market that operates from the Chauncey Swan parking ramp is ending its Wednesday markets, due to a decline in vendor participation, while keeping its popular Saturday markets.
At the same time, the online Field to Family market, which arose during the pandemic, is continuing from its home base in Iowa City.
In partnership with the Iowa City Parks and Recreation Department, the contact-free online market began in 2020 to maintain access between farmers and shoppers, and due to customer and farmer demand, Field to Family continued to run the market independently.
“As an organization committed to expanding access to healthy and local foods in partnership with farmers, we want to do everything we can to continue meeting demand for local food and farm products in our community,” said Field to Family director Michelle Kenyon.
The online market features fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, starter plants, honey, eggs, meat, dairy and mushrooms; frozen foods with locally-sourced ingredients; locally roasted packaged coffee beans; infused oils with locally-sourced ingredients and baked goods, as long as at least one ingredient is locally-sourced.
Ms. Kenyon noted that the new pickup site is at the warehouse behind Pepperwood Plaza, while delivery is available through CHOMP in Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Hills, Tiffin, Swisher, Shueyville, Solon and West Branch.
In Cedar Rapids, the Noelridge farmers market is scaling back from three days per week to Wednesdays-only, said market manager Cathy Cropp-Scanlon.
“The vendor base had lessened last year to the extent that some days – especially Fridays before the downtown market – we had no vendors show up at all,” she said.
Elsewhere in Cedar Rapids, a new farmers market that arose during the pandemic will continue this year outside of the Chrome Horse Saloon in New Bohemia.
“The NewBo area has so much to offer to the city of Cedar Rapids,” said Michelle Hosch, of MH Entertainment, which started the market. “The foot traffic that typically happens on Saturday mornings will be a win-win situation for the vendors, customers and businesses in the NewBo and Czech (Village) area.”
Ms. Hosch noted that in addition to vendors, the market features musicians from the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy and School of Rock performing on stage, and she would like to open up the stage to more children’s activities.
Live entertainment is returning to all of the Downtown Farmers Markets in Cedar Rapids, said Maddix Stovie, event planner for the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance.
“We are excited to bring back the regular market season and will be kicking off our first market in May,” Ms. Stovie said, citing more than 150 vendors – all Iowa-based small businesses – who will be featured at the markets this year.
The first downtown market is set for 7:30 a.m. to noon May 28, while the crowd-pleasing Market After Dark is scheduled for Aug. 27.
Following are outdoor and online farmers markets in Linn and Johnson counties. Find a list of more than 50 Eastern Iowa markets at HomegrownIowan.com/farmersmarkets
— Coralville, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, May 18 through Oct. 5, Iowa River Landing, south of 8011 E. Second Ave.; Watts Group (319) 338-4100. iowariverlanding.com/coralville-farmers-market
— Field to Family online market, cart opens May 2, with orders due by noon Tuesdays and pickup on Thursdays at the warehouse behind Pepperwood Plaza, 1049 Hwy. 6, Iowa City; (319) 855-2649. fieldtofamily.org/online-farmers-market
— Iowa City, 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays, May 7 through Oct. 29, Chauncey Swan parking ramp, 405 E. Washington St.; Brad Barker, (319) 356-5102. www.icgov.org/farmersmarket
— Shueyville, 4-6 p.m. Fridays starting May 6, Secret Cellar, 1205 Curtis Bridge Rd. NE; secretcellarwines.com
— Solon, 4-6 p.m. Tuesdays, June 7 through Oct. 4, Mushroom Park, Highway 1 and Main Street; Jim Grieder, (319) 310-4671.
— Swisher, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Thursdays, June 2 through Oct. 13, downtown park next to City Hall; (319) 857-4539. www.swisheria.org
— Cedar Rapids Noelridge Park, 3:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesdays, May 4 through Oct. 12, Collins Road and Council Street NE; Cathy Cropp-Scanlon, (319) 286-5763. www.cedar-rapids.org
— Chrome Horse, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., June 11; July 9 and 23 and Aug. 13, parking lot of Chrome Horse Saloon, 1201 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids; Michelle Hosch, MH Entertainment, email@example.com
— Cultivate Hope, 4-7 p.m. Thursdays, May 12 through Oct. 6, Matthew 25 Urban Farm, 437 G Ave. NW, Cedar Rapids. www.hub25.org/food/market
— Downtown Cedar Rapids, 7:30 a.m. to noon on May 28; June 4 and 18; July 2 and 16; Aug. 6 and 20 and Sept. 17, and Market After Dark, 6:30-11 p.m. Aug. 27, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. www.cedarrapids.org
— Center Point: 4-6 p.m. Wednesdays, June 1 through Sept. 28, Titan Machinery parking lot, 4250 Grain Lane; contact City Hall, (319) 849-1508.
— Hiawatha, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays, May 1 through Oct. 30, Guthridge Park parking lot at 10th Avenue; (319) 393-1515. www.hiawatha-iowa.com
— Marion, 8-11 a.m. Saturdays, May 7 through Sept. 10, Taube Park, 2200 31st St.; Marion Parks & Recreation, (319) 447-3590. www.cityofmarion.org
— Uptown Marion, 8 a.m. to noon June 11, July 9, Aug. 13 and Sept. 24, City Square Park; Marion Chamber of Commerce, (319) 377-6316. www.marioncc.org
— Mount Vernon, canceled. Find vendor contact information: facebook.com/mtvernonfarmersmarket
— NewBo City Market, Farmers at the Market, 5-7 p.m. Thursdays and 1-4 p.m. Saturdays, May 5 through September, 1100 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids. www.newbocitymarket.org