Community

Iowa City Farmers Market season will be extended into December

Farm to Family will hold late-season markets for five additional weeks

Hubbard and butternut squash are stored in dry storage Oct. 17, 2019, at the Food Hub in Iowa City. The hub acts as a br
Hubbard and butternut squash are stored in dry storage Oct. 17, 2019, at the Food Hub in Iowa City. The hub acts as a broker between small-scale farms looking to fill gaps in the local market, such as local schools or nursing homes that want to serve fresh produce. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The Iowa City Farmers Market season is extending into December.

Iowa City nonprofit Field to Family announced it will hold late-season markets for five additional weeks after the summer market ends Oct 31. The markets will be Nov. 7, 14, 21 and Dec. 5 and 12.

Field to Family ran the downtown Iowa City Farmers Market this summer in partnership with the city Parks and Recreation Department. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the market had a virtual shopping and curbside pickup format for the first time, with customers picking up their prebagged orders from the Chauncey Swan parking garage.

The partnership with the city ends at the end of October, and order pickup will move to Field to Family’s warehouse at 840 S. Capitol St.

Customers can place orders online at https://orders.fieldtofamily.org on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and pick them up Saturdays.

Because of the location change and a smaller selection as the growing season winds down, the market will cap at serving 200 people; currently it can serve up to 500 customers a week.

Field to Family communications and events coordinator Julia Poska said the extension is in response to customer and vendor demand.

“Since fall started to turn, we’ve had so many people asking when will this end, will there be a winter market,” she said. “If there’s so much demand and our vendors have been enjoying it and seen success from it, there’s no reason not to keep offering those services in our community.”

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As of Oct. 17, the summer market had distributed 10,329 orders, contributing $452,783 to local farmers and vendors.

Customers also made $13,000 in donations to the nonprofit’s Farm Stands program, which provides free, locally grown produce to Johnson County households experiencing food insecurity.

Field to Family director Michelle Kenyon said extending the market also helps the organization continue its mission of connecting local farmers with consumers. When the pandemic started, the nonprofit’s Food Hub saw a precipitous drop in the customers they planned to serve — namely schools, restaurants and the University of Iowa. At the same time, they saw increase in demand from individuals. The farmers market was a way to adapt to that.

“Our Food Hub had to go back to the table and pivot to where the need is, and we want to meet the demand where it continues to grow,” Kenyon said.

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

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