New program adds access for ALL families

The North Iowa and Clear Lake Farmers Markets add program benefiting low income families

By Lisa Packer, Local Food Coordinator, Healthy Harvest

The North Iowa and Clear Lake Farmers Markets have added the Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program, a healthy food incentive supporting families living with food insecurity.

A program of Iowa Healthiest State Initiative, DUFB matches the value of federal nutrition benefits spent at participating farmers’ markets, helping people bring home more healthy, locally-grown fruits and vegetables.

Here’s how it works: Double Up matches the value of SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) purchases at participating sites with additional dollars to spend on fresh, locally-grown produce. For instance, a family that spends $10 in SNAP benefits at a participating farmers market receives an additional $10 in Double Up Food Bucks to purchase Iowa-grown produce.

With 50 vendors across both markets, farmers markets are a great avenue for everyone looking to buy local, including our Double Up families.

The benefits ripple through our community: low-income families eat more healthy food, local farmers gain new customers and make more money, and more food dollars stay local.

Adding DUFBs helps low-income families stretch their food dollars, and easily access fresh, local produce.

Our farmers markets are family-friendly where people connect with the farmers who grow their food, try new foods, set healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime and enjoy affordable, accessible fresh fruits and vegetables.

Double Up Food Bucks began in six Iowa farmers markets in 2016 and is now active at 13 sites including farmers markets, farm stands, and mobile markets across Iowa. In 2016, the program reached 1,000 SNAP recipients resulting in more than $25,000 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables purchased from Iowa family famers. From a 2016 program evaluation, 94 percent of SNAP shoppers reported eating more fruits and vegetables and 74 percent of farmers reported making more money because of Double Up.

The Clear Lake Farmers Market is 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays in the Surf Ballroom parking lot through Oct. 17.

For more information about Double Up Food Bucks, visit, call 515-309-3227 or email The Healthiest State Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization driven by the goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation.

Let’s Celebrate!

National Farmers Market Week –  August 2-8, 2020

By Andrea Evelsizer

Farmers Markets across the country are gearing up to celebrate National Farmers Market Week from August 2-8. With everything that is going on right now it’s a great time to remember that Farmers Markets are essential and that they are also an excellent way to support many small local businesses in our communities. 

The National Farmers Market Coalition stated that “Farmers Markets continue to connect communities to delicious and nutritious local food in innovative ways. Market operators are adaptable and innovative to serve communities in unique ways that keep everyone safe. Farmers Markets are an essential part of our strained food system.”

Although many of the special activities that we’ve had at market in the past are on hold right now, we are excited that Natalie from Healthy Harvest of North Iowa will be at market on Saturday August 8th doing a cooking demo using their Charlie Cart (portable kitchen) to highlight ingredients straight from theCLFM vendors!

You can also find the Charlie Cart at the North Iowa Farmers Market on August 4th where local chef, Sally Pressly, will be demonstrating a fresh tomato recipe.

If you can’t make it to market on the these days there are other ways to join in, throughout the month, such as making purchases from a local farms, online curbside markets ( or food hubs (such as, cooking meals featuring local ingredients either from the markets or your own gardens and/or following the CLFM facebook/Instagram accounts.  Whatever you choose, we hope you’ll join us to in the Celebration!

How to Navigate the Farmer’s Market

By: Hannah Jones, Market Manager

The Clear Lake Farmer’s Market may look and feel a little different this year due to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as enjoyable as every year before that! We are still practicing social distancing and taking measures to ensure customer and vendor safety and although masks aren’t mandatory as of right now, they are encouraged. At the very beginning of the season only food and produce vendors were allowed because of restrictions put into place due to COVID-19. However, restrictions were lifted a few weeks back so that all other vendors are now able to participate. The Market is open from 9 AM to noon on Saturday’s and is located in the Surf Ballroom parking lot. There are a wide variety of vendors and products being sold that include, but are not limited to: produce, honey, popcorn, baked goods, bread, homemade jewelry, soaps and fragrances, decorative signs – you name it! Behind every product there is a vendor, and each time you buy from them you are supporting them and their local business. There are many full season vendors but there are also several that vary from week to week. The Farmer’s Market is a fun atmosphere and a great way to spend time with family, friends or pets! So, if you’re looking for a sign to get out and enjoy some fresh air on your Saturday morning, this is it! Come shop local and get to know the hard-working people behind all of these amazing products.

Meet Your Farmer Monday

By Lisa Packer

Everyone’s story is different but each one of us has a story to tell.

Check in on Mondays on our social media platforms to hear the stories of
our farmers! They are amazing and we hope you enjoy the connection to not only your locally-sourced food but your local farmers as well.

For today’s column, we’re in Clarion, Iowa.

For 5 generations the Hunter family has been perfecting a premium beef product; it’s in their blood!

Ashley and her sister Sara grew up raising and showing cattle across the country receiving purple ribbons! Now they own and run the aptly named
Purple Ribbon Beef!

Their focus is on sustainability – local corn feed, Iowa meat processing
companies and local sales of premium beef. Every animal is born and raised on the farm. They can tell you every detail of the 140 cows.

Cattle is all we know as a family!

Ashley says we are humbled during this difficult time by the increase of support and love shown not only by our customers but by the greater northern Iowa region as everyone navigates all these changes.

You can find Purple Ribbon Beef at the Clear Lake Farmers Market on
Saturdays through October 17, 9 a.m. to noon n the parking lot of the Surf Ballroom and Museum.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and visit our webpage at for up-to-date information.

The Clear Lake and North Iowa Farmers Markets are offering a Curbside
Market Program. Visit to learn more.

Meet your farmer Monday!

We’d like to introduce you to another one of the vendors at the Clear Lake
Farmers Market – Brown Family Farms.
Brown Family Farms has some delicious baked goods!
Shaun and his wife Myla are vendors at both the CLFM and the North Iowa
Farmers Market in Mason City. So they’re at markets here Tuesday, Friday
and Saturday! That is a lot of baking.
Shaun has always been a baker. He started as a child in his grandma*s
kitchen. After working for a decade and a half in a factory, he purchased
9 acres and began Brown Family Farms in 2017.
Shaun bakes a variety of breads, delicious pies, cookies, and provides
farm-fresh eggs and locally-tapped maple syrup. The farm focuses on
healthy, natural ingredients, locally-sourced or from his own farm.
Being a full-time farmer, vendor and a father of 4 boys is tiring, Shaun
said. He sells at the farmers markets (4 days a week) because he can see
and interact with his customers.
*Being outside in the sun does all of us good!*
It is important to me to produce local baked goods and sell locally! When you buy from Brown Family Farms you are supporting a local family, meaning I can feed, house and provide for my family. Thank you! Farmers markets are the best way to sell.” Try a pie or a cookie! Youll be hooked.
Find Brown Family Farms at the Clear Lake Farmers Market on Saturdays
through October 17, 9 a.m. to noon n the parking lot of the Surf Ballroom
and Museum.
Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and visit our webpage at for up-to-date information.
The Clear Lake and North Iowa Farmers Markets are also offering a Curbside Market Program. Visit to learn more.

Caprese Salad

By Judy Delperdang
With Farmers Market week just behind us, the Clear Lake Farmers Market is hitting its stride.
And if you’re a produce person, you’re in luck. So many things are in season now – beans, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, onions, sweet corn and more. There’s nothing better than garden-fresh produce.
Cherry tomatoes are my favorite. And tomatoes are so good for you, no matter what variety you prefer.
A 5-ounce serving packs a punch, with 25 percent of the RDA of vitamin A, 32 percent of vitamin C, 15 percent of vitamin K, 10 percent of potassium, 8 percent of manganese, and 6 percent of B6 and B9. They contain smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals, including other B-complex
vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, with less than 27 calories and 6 carbs per serving.
Antioxidants like lycopene are higher in cooked tomatoes, but the fruit has many benefits whether cooked or raw.
According to, tomatoes help lower cholesterol and
triglyceride levels, promote weight loss, reduce the risk of cancer, and reduce inflammation. They can also increase the production of serotonin, which helps regulate mood, pain management and digestion.
For this Caprese salad recipe from Cookie and Kate, I used cherry
tomatoes, fresh mozzarella from Lost Lake Farms (at the market once a month), and paired it with Steve’s Sweet Corn. Visit us at the Surf Ballroom parking lot, 9 am to noon Saturdays, at and on Facebook.
Heirloom Caprese Salad
2 pounds ripe tomatoes
8-ounce ball of fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves (handful)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
With a serrated knife, cut the tomatoes into ¼″ thick slices. Arrange on large serving platter, overlapping edges. Cut mozzarella into ¼″ slices, and tuck around tomatoes. Sprinkle basil over the salad, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. For best flavor, let rest for 30 minutes. Refrigerate leftovers up to 3 days.

Storm Damage

By Jessi Myers

There are many things
that define a great community. There are the amenities and attractions,
the businesses and job opportunities, and most importantly the people. The
Clear Lake Farmers Market is a great example of all of these things and
one of the many things that makes Clear Lake great. The special quality of
the the Market and the people that participate was on full display on July

Around 11:00 am a strong storm moved in quickly. There
was very little warning and there was extensive damage. During this time
vendors and patrons fought 60+ mph winds trying to keep the canopies,
displays, merchandise, and people safe. Hard rain followed and people
scrambled to help their friends, neighbors and even strangers salvage what
they could.

Approximately 18 vendors lost their canopies.
Crafters had handmade goods destroyed by rain. Those materials now a loss.
Carefully designed signage and marketing materials were ruined. Checks and
cash were lost to the wind.

People picked up the debris,
untangled tents, offered comforting words to each other, and kept looking
for the next place to help until it was all done. By noon the Market was
fully torn down and the vendors and patrons were on their way home. Bumps
and bruises but no major injuries.

It would be great if that
was where the difficulty ended. The small business owners affected by the
storm still face insurance claimes. They are crunching numbers to find
room for replacement canopies, displays, and materials to make new product
in their budget. They are re-evaluating schedules and plans to make time
to put the same care into the quality of their product that they put into
what they lost.

So you may be asking yourself, what can I do to
help? How can I support these businesses and make sure they thrive? The
answer is simple. Come to the Clear Lake Farmers Market and shop. Support
the vendors that make the market great by buying their goods. Shop for
groceries. Ask them for recipe ideas and try something new. Buy gifts for
a friend or something special for yourself. Show up and show the the
market family that it is a special part of Clear Lake and that Clear Lake
is truly a great community.

be in the parking lot at the Surf Ballroom and Museum from 9 a.m. to noon
Saturday, through Oct. 19. For information, visit and follow us on Facebook.

Eating Local

By Judy Delperdang

Now is the perfect time to explore eating local.
One of the best ways to eat local is to create your own garden. Start small with a little plot or even a few containers. It’s not too late, and there are plenty of people willing to help. Focus on vegetables or herbs that you love and know you will eat.
Another great place is your local farmers market. Learn when fruits and vegetables are in season by visiting Not only can you eat what’s in season now, but you can stock up for the winter. You can often buy large quantities of produce like tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, corn, blueberries or aronia berries very inexpensively. Freezing is an easy way to preserve them for later. Items like squash, potatoes, onions, carrots and beets have a long shelf life, so buy in late summer/early fall and save them for winter. A Preservation Celebration is planned for Sunday, Sept. 15, at Central Gardens of North Iowa, where you can learn about food preservation from a variety of vendors and food artisans. There will also be a tasting table loaded with pickles, preserves, breads and more.
Local meat, egg, honey producers often have products available year round, at farmers markets, specialty stores like Simply Nourished in Clear Lake, and directly from the
A great local resource is Healthy Harvest of North Iowa, for information on everything from finding local producers to local food events. Visit their website at www.healthyharvestni.comor follow them on Facebook. Local food is also available through North Iowa Fresh, which offers a CSA-style “Bounty Box” and partners with producers and vendors to get local food in restaurants and stores. You can find them at and on Facebook.
As always, we hope to see you at the Clear Lake Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays through Oct. 19. We’re located in the parking lot at the Surf Ballroom and Museum. For information, visit and follow us on Facebook.

Live Music At Market

By Judy Delperang
Music is as much of a staple at the Clear Lake Farmers Market as is seasonal produce, locally-raised meat, baked goods, and handmade crafts. And like other market offerings, you have to get there early to take the best advantage of it. While the market runs from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, the music is over at 11.
Market-goers on June 22 were treated to the music of Desiree Castillo, 21, of Mason City.
Desiree said she’s “been doing music since age 11,” serving on the worship team at Agape Christian Family Church in Clear Lake.
“I’ve been playing guitar since I was 5 or 6. I’ve been singing my whole life.”
Her dad and 18-year-old brother are also on the church worship team. “I’m obviously used to doing worship music,” she said about the kind of music she plays.
“Oddly enough, I’m not the greatest fan of country, but that comes pretty easy. I’ll do anything that sounds good with guitar. I think I do it well.”
She was listening to country music “when I was figuring out my voice” around age 10 or 11, but she also heard oldies music (1950s and ’60s) growing up.
“My dad is into it. It’s easy to do and fun.”
Putting her touch on the music she performs is a bit of a challenge in a two-hour set like the market’s.
“Going with the flow – changing it around – kind of comes naturally to me” with worship music.
“If I like it, make it my own.”
You have two more chances to catch Desiree at the market: Aug. 10 and Sept. 28. Don’t miss it.
The schedule for the rest of the season:
Bill Wolf, July 6; Jim Thornton, July 13; Abby Smith, July 20; Kristy Neidlinger, July 27; Jim Thornton, Aug. 3; Desiree, Aug. 10; Spencer Rahm, Aug. 17; Dave Sappenfield, Aug. 24; TBD Aug. 31; Kristy Neidlinger, Sept. 7; Jim Thornton, Sept. 14; Dave Sappenfield, Sept. 21; Desiree, Sept. 28; Harvest Fest, Oct. 5; Dave Sappenfield, Oct. 12; Betsy and Tom Kirby, Oct. 19.
The farmers market is open 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays through Oct. 19 in the Surf Ballroom parking lot.
For information, visit, and follow the market on Facebook and Instagram.

Special thanks to sponsors who make this weekly live music possible: CDI, CLTel & The North Iowa Board of Realtors

Youth Vending Program

The Clear Lake Farmers Market wants to support budding young entrepreneurs! Young people, up to 18 years of age, will be given the opportunity to sell handcrafts and homegrown produce. In offering local youth this opportunity, we hope to introduce them to various skills, including marketing, decision-making, record-keeping/monetary skills, interpersonal skills and building their knowledge of the farmers market and local food community.  

During the 2018 market season 18 Youth Vendors participated in the program. Thanks to support from the Clear Lake Noon Lions, canopies and tables were purchased so the kids could have their own stall for a true market experience. Goods sold included cedar sachets, fudge, cupcakes, apples, greeting cards, dog & cat toys, coffee, muffins, bread, lemonade, eggs, aloe plants & more! All items were handmade, baked from scratch or home grown and after trying it once many returned again or expressed interest in participating again this year.

This season, the Clear Lake Farmers Market Board has decided to expand this program and provide 3 dedicated youth vending stalls on all market days. Special thanks to our Youth Vending Sponsor, The Gabrielson Clinic for Women, for making this expansion possible. We’re excited to see what our young entrepreneurs have to offer this summer!

Information on the Youth Vending Program including the rules and online application can be found at or by emailing