It is a random Thursday afternoon in April, when the Iowa weather is somewhere between sunny skies and a monsoon-style downpour. Since we like to err on the side of caution, my daughter and I are curled up in our reading nook (aka a couple of pillows on the floor), reading “Rah, Rah, Radishes”, a vegetable chant book. No joke. And it’s one of our favorites. My daughter loves vegetables the way most kids love ANYTHING that doesn’t resemble a carrot (cheese puffs excluded). The vegetable chant book is filled with photos of fresh produce in a market-like setting. Every time we read it (no less than 10 times each day) I get super excited, knowing that the summer Farmer’s Market season is right around the corner!
Admittedly, we have not made it out to many since moving to Iowa City and partly because I haven’t taken the time to seek them out. This year, I really want to make them more of a priority and I REALLY want to see my daughter’s face light up like a Griswold Christmas tree when she spots tables of peppers and kale in person! Farmer’s Markets are fantastic for supporting local farmers and artisans, giving the environment a bit of a break and building strong communities. They are a great way to get the family (or yourself) out for a leisurely stroll. Who knows? You could even enjoy some live music, find a new fabulous product, begin a family breakfast tradition, or ahem pick up super FRESH ingredients for dinner! There are so many markets in our area, you could visit one every day of the week. Finding and figuring out that many market times and locations can be a bit overwhelming, but I have done all of the work for you (except packing up the kids- my sincere apologies). Without further ado, here’s when and where you can find your very own vegetable haven!
Downtown @ the Chauncey Swan Parking Ramp (460 E Washington Street)
May 2- Oct. 31
Wednesdays 5-7 p.m.
Saturdays 7:30 a.m.-Noon
(We’ve visited the downtown Iowa City market a handful of times, and we’ve always left stuffed with delicious food, carrying a bag full of locally grown goodies!)
Mercer Park (2701 Bradford Drive)
May 5- Oct. 27
Tuesdays 3-6 p.m.
Noelridge Farmer’s Market
@ Noelridge Park (4900 Council Street NE)
May 1- Oct. 16
Mondays/ Wednesdays/ Fridays 4-6 p.m
@ Greene Square Park (400 4th Avenue SE)
June 6 & 20, July 4 & 18, Aug. 1 & 15, Sept. 5 & 19
(This market is currently one of the largest of its kind in the Midwest, featuring over 200 local vendors. Look for fun events as it celebrates it’s 10 year anniversary!)
NewBo City Market
@ 1100 3rd Street
Thursdays 10-8 p.m.
Fridays 10-6 p.m.
Saturdays 10-6 p.m.
Sundays 10-4 p.m.
(Enjoy live music here on Thursday evenings or bring the kiddos for family focused fun on Sundays. Saturdays when the Downtown market is also in session, a trolley will be available from 9:30-2 p.m. for easy transportation between the two.)
@ the Coralville Community Aquatic Center (1513 7th Street) *Rain or Shine
May 4- Oct. 5
Mondays 5-7 p.m
(The Market begins with a ringing of a bell and offers live music almost every week! Visit their website to download a schedule of performers and events)
@ Penn Landing, Pacha Parkway (by Highway 965 & Penn St)
May 3- Oct. 25
Sundays 11-2 p.m.
(A freshly expanded market! Fun for the whole family with live music every Sunday!)
@ City Square Park (2200 31st Street)
May 2- Sept. 19
Saturdays 8-11:30 a.m.
@ the 10th Avenue parking lot of Guthridge Park
April 26- Oct. 25
Sundays 11:00 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Located on the lawn of the First Street Community Center (221 1st Street NE)
May 7-Sept. 24
Thursdays 4-6 p.m.
There you have it, your produce paradise awaits! And if you meet me at the market (I hope so), please be sure to say hello. We can swap stories, share a laugh, sample some wine or grab a donut! We can support our community while nurturing our minds, bellies and souls. Rah, rah, radishes! Red and white. Carrots are calling. Take a bite!
Didn’t see a Farmer’s Market in a location of interest or convenience? Check out homegrowniowan.com for a directory of markets all over Eastern Iowa!
What do you and your family love most about market season? Which town market is your go to? Have a delicious veggie recipe you could send my way? I’d love to hear from you!