The U.S.D.A. has given an $8,000 grant to a start-up farmers market in western Iowa — the only farmers market in the state to get a chunk of the national funding. While $8,000 doesn’t sound like a huge federal grant, Shirley Frederiksen — organizer of the "Riverside Farmers Market" in Oakland — says it will make a huge difference.
They’ll use the money to conduct classes for vendors, do some advertising and put up some signs. Frederiksen admits their start-up this past July was a bit spartan. "We had no advertising money and no signs. We made little posterboard signs, you know, and put (them) out," she says. "I think we need to beef that up just a little bit. We need to let people that are driving through from other communities know that it’s here and maybe we could attract some more vendors as well."
Oakland sits along Highway 6 and Frederiksen says the community of 15-hundred did not have a farmers market nearby. "The closest one is Council Bluffs. There is one in Atlantic and Red Oak and also in Denison, so probably a half hour is the closest one," she says. "It is nice with all the things going on in the world to know where your food comes from and to be able to buy locally. It’s also fresher and better tasting, I think."
Frederiksen’s next goal is to get the Oakland farmers market certified by the state so those who qualify for government food assistance can use their benefits to buy fresh produce. There have been more than 160 farmers markets operating in Iowa this season and most will close up shop sometime this month.