Thousands of Iowans flocked to farmers markets which opened in several cities last weekend, but after a long winter, some stands offered different products than usual for early spring. Scott Veach, spokesman for Central Iowa Organics, sold mostly green vegetables at three farmers markets in the Des Moines area. Veach says the early season will be slow, but he expects to deliver truckloads full of produce every week by June.
“I start early, so I start plants in January and we keep transplanting, that way we can deal with the season as it comes,” Veach says. “So it’s just being prepared and being ready for the time for when it’s ready.” State horticulturist Mike Bevins says there were a lot of baked goods and bedding plants for the first weekend of farmers markets, but by next weekend, he hopes to see more greens and produce.
Statewide, there are some 230 farmers markets every year. Matt Russell, co-owner of Coyote Run Farms near Lacona, says this spring has been so cold that he’s about two weeks behind his normal schedule. Despite that, Russell says he’s still offering an array of products. “Farmers are optimistic by nature and I just sense there’s a lot of optimism out there and a lot of hopefulness,” Russell says. “While it’s been a cold winter and a cool start, but we’ve got some good moisture. We’ve got the subsoil moisture building back up across the state.”
State ag officials say a recent survey found Iowa had about $38 million worth of direct sales at farmers markets, creating an impact of $71 million on the state’s economy. The average shopper went to Iowa farmers markets ten times during the 21-week market season, was about 53 years old, and reported spending a little over $17 per visit.