Farmers Market looking toward opening

CRESCO - This year’s Cresco Open Air Market will have a shorter season than last year. Manager Ashten Lienhard said, “We will run from May to October. Opening day is May 18.”
 Prior to that, there will be a vendor and potential vendor meeting on April 29 at 1 p.m. at the Cresco Area Chamber of Commerce. “In this meeting, we will go over rules and regulations, as well as food laws for both Iowa and Federal.” The market will be closed for the Howard County Fair.
The farmers market will again be held at Beadle Park, from 3-6 p.m. Lienhard is looking for a new rain location that will garner more foot traffic and sales.
Anyone can be a member as long as they make, bake, create or grow it themselves. The market does not want resale products. As for food regulations, there is no religious exemptions, so they have to pass state and federal laws. Which can easily be done to make food within compliance. 
Some things do require lab testing. Several of last year’s vendors did lab testing, and they said it was a very easy process with Midwest Labs. 
There is always a good selection of items at the farmers market, but everyone is looking for more baked goods and produce. 
“Our most unusual vendor would be Lezlie. She is the only person in the entire state of Iowa that grows oyster mushrooms indoors on a farm scale level. She’s got quite the operation. It’s incredible. Her mushrooms are also delicious, and she can inform you of how to cook them if you are a first timer,” Lienhard stated.
“We have a lot of talented vendors that will be returning for the second year.
• “Martha does hand embroidery. The last time I talked to her, she has 12 sets ready for this year, including a set with some cute yellow ducks! They would make a great housewarming gift.”
• Jim Perry makes beautiful charcuterie and cutting boards. 
• Last year, Donna H. made a stuffed turkey entirely by hand for Thanksgiving, and then she made a Santa Claus for Christmas! 
• Joyce makes the best kolaches, a Czech pastry, in the country. She always sells out fast. 
• Joe does wood scrollworking. He currently has his items available at the new place in Ridgeway, so if you miss him at market you can get them there, too. Lienhard added, “The time and talent he puts into each piece is breathtaking.” 
The fee this year is the same as last year, just $50 for the season. There will also be a one-time booth fee of $25. That option would be great if a person wants to just try it out once to see how it goes. Then if he or she decides they liked it, that $25 goes towards the $50 for a full-time vendor spot. 
“This is only our second year. I learned a lot in the first year of what works and what doesn’t. I’ve also taken several training courses through my Alum of Iowa State. 
“In February, I attended the Iowa Farmers Market Association Workshop. I was able to speak with the Department of Inspection and Appeals on the Food Regulations, as well as gain some new ideas and pick up some books to help further the market.”
Lienhard has some great ideas this year, but she says she can’t take credit for them all. “The vendors are great in letting me know their ideas so I can get the ball rolling on them. Jim and Joe last year pitched the idea of a night market, so we are working towards making that happen.”
Other ideas include learning opportunities for the vendors, like a tech course (how to use and market on social media) and produce handling. The market is also giving the high school Silver Cord participants an opportunity to help vendors set up and tear down. “As they say many hands, make light work.” 
Lienhard is most excited for interest of new vendors. “I hope to keep growing the market.” For more information call 563-419-7329.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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