By Judy Delperdang
It’s been a challenging year for our farmers market. With the cold spring, followed immediately by the wet and hot summer, produce is behind schedule. Many farmers have replanted 2-3 times due to flooding, and the hot temperatures hurt those who had high tunnels, leaving little in the way of lettuce, radishes, beets, spinach and Asian vegetables at the market.
Becky Huang of North Iowa Berries and More asks market goers to be patient.
“They have to understand that we are at the mercy of the weather,” Becky said.
Even though produce may be 3-5 weeks later than expected, vendors still plan to bring it to the market, and need to know they have their customers’ support when it arrives.
Options for shoppers include getting to the market early before things sell out, or even ordering ahead of time. Becky also encourages people to support the vendors by purchasing things they might not otherwise try.
“Many of us have branched out into other things such as baked goods, microgreens, late crop greens, etc., as a way of keeping sales up. Don’t be afraid to try new things!”
Becky urges her customers “to keep coming because each week a few more items will show up. While June and July are usually our big sales months, it will be the end of July and August this year instead.”
Becky said her berries and squash are right on time, but almost everything else is late. She said there should be more sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, and beans in the next few weeks.
“The main thing customers need to realize is that the local farmers are trying hard to produce as much as they possibly can. Yes, production is down due to the weather. Yes, everything is a bit later. But we still need to have the support of the community. Their livelihood depends on local shopping.”
It’s tough on vendors when customers are unhappy due to lack of produce. And they’re concerned that people are buying less than usual.
“The farmers care deeply for the health of their neighbors and friends and they work from sunrise to sunset to grow the best fruit and vegetables they can. But, it takes constant support of the whole community to keep local fresh produce coming in for the years to come.”
Becky’s favorites are raspberries, blueberries, aronia berries, and microgreens.
“I use those items daily in almost all of our family meals. If it is a superfood, you can find it on our table.”
“The health benefits to eating fresh, local chemical-free produce are tremendous and vendors are working hard to help their customers know that. They are encouraged to see the markets doing more in pushing the health benefits of farmers market shopping.”