IC farmer's market starts first winter season


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In the summer, Lois Pavelka provides the downtown Farmers' Market with lamb, pork, and beef. Each week, she said, she serves a large number of loyal customers.

And with the official launch of the Grant Wood Market Place, a winter Farmers' Market, she said, she will be able to keep providing those loyal customers fresh meat all year-round.

"It will provide a routine year-round market," said Pavelka, the owner of Pavelka's Point Farm. "When you raise livestock, you usually raise it year-round, and [the market] creates a continuous outlet for livestock."

Vendors at the Farmers' Market said they are excited to see what new opportunities the year-round market will provide for their businesses.

The market will be held in the Grant Wood Elementary gym, 930 Lakeside Drive, on the first and third Saturday of each month from 2 to 4 p.m. The first event will be Saturday; the series will last through April.

Cindy Coffin, an Iowa City recreation supervisor, said produce vendors are trying different things such as greenhouses to provide for the year-round indoor market.

"[Businesses] are trying to expand the growing season, but some things won't be able to grow," she said.

Pavelka is one of 35 vendors who have signed up for the November through April season. Each vender pays $150 for the space. City leaders said the market won't cost local taxpayers anything because the costs are covered by the vendor fees.

Iowa City will now have three Farmers' Markets. On Saturdays and Wednesdays, vendors sell goods in the Chauncy Swan parking ramp downtown. On Tuesdays, Sycamore Mall hosts as Farmers' Market in the summer and fall. The new Grant Wood market will be Iowa City's only regular winter market.

Other cities throughout Iowa have winter markets, including Ames, which has had a year-round farmers' market for seven years. Locals say having it has benefited both the community and the businesses.

Norine Black, a head of several farmers' market committees in Ames, said, "Anytime you bring activity in the downtown area, it provides small-business expansion."

In Iowa City, Melissa Osborn, who owns Creations by Oz, said the market will benefit her customers who want to order her custom-made jewelry.

"My clients can easily get what they want when they want it," she said. "And they can hang out and look at other vendors at the same time."

Julie Parisi, the owner of Zaza's Pastas, said new market gives her the chance to sell her products throughout the year and try new things with the seasonal changes. She is also is bringing new items such as holiday gift bags.

"This gives me the opportunity and space for me to sell my products year-round, rather than just during the summer," said Parisi. "I like to introduce things seasonally."

Coffin said she has some concern people won't know about the new market. However, she said vendors will likely promote the Grant Wood location to their current customers.

"[Costumers] know that it is available," Coffin said. "If they know vendors are there, they will make the special trip."

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