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Farmers’ Market opens season

BY MARY HARRINGTON | MAY 04, 2009 7:30 AM

Switching out baseball caps and beers for fresh produce and reusable bags, locals packed a parking lot for opening day of the Farmers’ Market season.

Pedestrians and produce-filled pickup trucks brightened up Chauncey Swan parking ramp May 2 at Iowa City’s first Farmer’s Market of the 2009 season.

With sunny weather on the growers’ side, vendors said the event turnout was great, and for most, sales were as high as usual. From 7:30 a.m. until noon, area farmers, craftsmen, and cooks pandered their goods to local shoppers.

Handmade scarves blew in a breeze that carried scents of fresh flowers and coffee beans. The green of locally grown produce fused with purple hues of fruit pies and snow-peak tufts of cupcake toppings.

As in previous years, this season’s vendor locations sold out well in advance of the first day of operations. For Iowa City residents Calvin and Betty Lavely, the weekly commitment to their reserved spot is often a highlight.

The couple displayed handmade woodcrafts and pieces that could sell from glass top store displays yet fit in perfectly with the variety of local productions.

“We love the market season,” 78-year-old Calvin Lavely said. “Just getting to visit with all kinds of people each week is so enjoyable.”

Just across the parking lot from Lavely’s polished crafts, Jay Coffland sold a variety of his Heritage Point meats. For 10 years, the out-of-towner has traveled to Iowa City’s market every week, because the market here is more profitable than other towns’, he said.

“People have a different frame of mind of what they want here,” he said. “In a town like Iowa City, these markets really flourish.” He estimated his weekly profit in Iowa City is seven times greater than at a Cedar Rapids market.

Taking advantage of the crafty crowd of sellers and shoppers, the Johnson County Master Gardener program camped out all morning with brochures and gardening specialists answering the questions of interested shoppers. Group member Joann Verts said a steady stream of visitors stopped by the booth all morning.

“People seem to be getting more and more interested in the vegetable gardening scene,” Verts said. “We’re here to help educate an already- interested community.”


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