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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.

2019 Vendor Open House

It may be snowy outside but we’re thinking spring! The 2019 Clear Lake Farmers Market season begins on May 18th and our market board and volunteers have been busy planning. All returning vendors and those interested in becoming a vendor are invited to this open house style gathering on Sunday, March 3rd from 1:00 to 3:00 at 18 N 3rd St, Clear Lake (Simply Nourished) to socialize, snack on local goodies, ask questions and hear about all of the exciting things that will be happening at market this year!

Interested in becoming a vendor? CLICK HERE for more information!

Thanks to Simply Nourished for allowing us to use your space! For those who are not familiar with the store – Simply Nourished carries many local products and sponsored a weekly healthy snack for children at market every week last year.


Black Thumb

By Jessi Myers

I have a black thumb. I know lots of people probably think that’s an excuse or a lack of effort but for me it’s a true affliction. An individual with a black thumb struggles to grow plant life of any kind. This is true for me, but beyond that, plant life struggles to thrive even if I’m merely present. It’s emotionally taxing to watch vegetation wilt when you walk in the room. I can feel their distrust. It’s the same feeling I have when watch a movie I know will emotionally devastate me. (Plants: “Oh no, I feel my life force escaping. Why must I die? Oh, Jessi walked in. Well, it was a good run.” Continue reading