Community

Farmers markets kick off across Eastern Iowa

Tiger collards grow at Donna Warhover’s farm Morning Glory in rural Mount Vernon, Iowa, on Monday, April 30, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Tiger collards grow at Donna Warhover’s farm Morning Glory in rural Mount Vernon, Iowa, on Monday, April 30, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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At Donna Warhover’s Morning Glory Farm, just south of Mount Vernon, the start of the growing season is in full swing — finally.

After an unseasonably cold April, Warhover finally was able to start moving seedlings out of her greenhouses and into the field at the end of the month. As she got ready to head to the first round of area farmers markets this past week, she estimated her crops were about two weeks behind schedule.

“When the weather finally did break, it meant all hands on deck, in the fields planting,” she said. “I’ve finally gotten the cold crops in the ground.”

Those include kohlrabi, cabbage, broccoli and collard greens, but most of those aren’t ready for market yet. Still, thanks to a hoop house Warhover built three years ago, she plans to have radishes and greens — kale, spinach, arugula and others — at her booth at the Iowa City Farmers Market today.

Outside, asparagus also was shooting up through the soil, and bunches of lovage were ready for harvesting.

“The spring lettuce isn’t ready to harvest for market just yet — it’s a little too small. The rhubarb will be a little bit late, too,” she said.

In addition to the Iowa City Farmers Markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays, Warhover — who owns three acres and rents two more — sells at the Noelridge Park Farmers Market in Cedar Rapids on Mondays and the Mount Vernon Farmers Market on Thursdays. She estimates selling at markets brings in one-third of her farm’s revenue — the rest comes from CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares and from selling to local chefs.

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“It’s important to support local, small businesses, and that’s what people do when they shop at the farmers market,” she said.

Johnson and Linn County farmers markets, which started in the last week, include Iowa City, Noelridge Park, Ely, Hiawatha, Marion and Mount Vernon. Coralville’s market starts Monday. Others will start at the end of May and beginning of June.

The Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers’ Market kicks off on May 26, a week earlier than in previous seasons, and it will end a week earlier, on Sept. 1. Melissa McCarville, communications manager for the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, said that decision came after organizers studied data from previous seasons, which showed holiday weekends correlated with high attendance.

“In the past, we’ve had markets on the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend and those were really well attended,” she said. “That very last market in mid-September was typically the lowest attended, and it was harder for all the vendors to come. School has started. Hawkeye football has started.”

The shift allows the market to trade that lower attendance market for a Memorial Day weekend market. There will still be eight day markets, plus the return of the Market After Dark on Aug. 25.

Another shift will be to the market’s footprint, as downtown street construction has shifted from last year.

“We heard time and time again that patrons love a loop, so we’re really excited that this year we’ll be able to do that again,” McCarville said.

The market, which has an average attendance of 14,000 patrons and nearly 200 local vendors, will run along Second and Third avenues SE between Second Street SE and Fifth Street SE, with spokes on Fifth Street SE and Third Street SE reaching to Fourth Avenue SE.

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One local market’s fate is yet to be decided. Organizers of the North Liberty Farmers Market at Penn Landing are looking for new management to take over running the market and are unsure if it will continue this year, said market co-owner Nolan Petersen. They hope to announce further details soon on the market’s Facebook page, facebook.com/pennlandingmarket. The market, which debuted in 2014, has been held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays between May and October in the past.

At the market

Johnson County

Coralville, 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays, May 7 to Oct. 1; no market May 28, July 2 or Sept. 3; Coralville Community Aquatic Center Parking Lot, 1513 Seventh St. Information: (319) 248-1750, coralville.org/250/Farmers-Market

Iowa City, 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays, to Oct. 31; Chauncey Swan Ramp, 400 block Washington Street. Information: (319) 356-5210, icgov.org/farmersmarket

Swisher, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, June 7 to Oct. 11; library parking lot, corner of Jefferson Street and Second Street. Information: (319) 857-4539, swisheria.org

Linn County

Cedar Rapids Downtown, 7:30 a.m. to noon May 26, June 2 and 16, July 7 and 21, Aug. 4 and 18, Sept. 1, and 6:30 to 11 p.m. Aug. 25. Information: (319) 398-5317, crdowntownmarket.com

Cedar Rapids Lion Bridge, 5 to 8 p.m. May 31 and Sept. 6; parking lot of Lion Bridge Brewing Co., 59 16th Ave. SW. Information: (319) 200-4460, lionbridgebrewing.com

Cedar Rapids NewBo City Market, 4:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, June 6 to Sept. 5; NewBo City Market, 1100 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids. Information: (319) 200-4050, newbocitymarket.org/team/newbo_farmers_market

Cedar Rapids Noelridge Park, 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to Oct. 12; no market May 28, July 4 or Sept. 3; 4900 Council St. NE, Information: (319) 286-5763, cedar-rapids.org/residents/parks_and_recreation/city_farmers_markets.php

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Central City, 4 to 6 p.m. Thursdays, June 7 to Sept. 27 and Oct. 13; Courtyard Park, S. Fifth Street. Information: (319) 438-1761, facebook.com/ccmainstreet

Ely, 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays and 4 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, to Oct. 3, open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 5; Community Center, 1570 Rowley St. Information: (319) 310-4671, facebook.com/elyfarmersmarket

Hiawatha, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays, to Oct. 28; 10th Avenue parking lot of Guthridge Park. Information: (319) 393-1515 Ext. 220, hiawatha-iowa.com

Marion, 8 to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays, May 5 to Sept. 29; Taube Park, 2200 31st St. Information: (319) 447-3590, cityofmarion.org

Marion Uptown Market, 8 a.m. to noon, June 9, July 14 and Aug. 11 and 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 29; City Square Park. Information: (319) 377-6316, marioncc.org/uptown-marion-markets

Mount Vernon, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, to Sept. 27; First Street Community Center, 221 E. First St. Information: (319) 310-4145, facebook.com/mtvernonfarmersmarket

Farmers market list compiled by farmers markets and municipal websites

Looking for more markets? The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship maintains a statewide farmers market database at www.idalsdata.org/fmnp/index.cfm?fuseaction=main.formfarmersmarketdirectory. Area markets also can be found at Hooplanow.com.

l Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

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