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Iowa City culture has deep roots in farming, and the biweekly market where family farmers sell their harvests remains an important tradition in the community. Saturday morning the Chauncy Swan Parking Ramp was bustling with vendors and customers for the final weekend day of year at the Iowa City Farmers’ Market. This particular market has been open seasonally on Saturdays since 1972.

There were dozens of vendors to choose from on Saturday, and about 100-150 customers walking through the market. Advocates for the campaigns of Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Beto O’Rourke built rapport and made their pitches to potential Democrat caucus voters.

Claire Zabel is the Supervisor at the Iowa City Farmers’ Market. She’s been working at this venue for six years.

“I think it’s special because when people come here to buy produce or crafts, they are buying from someone who made it themselves or grew it themselves and you can ask questions,” Zabel said. “You can just really get to know your farmer or crafts-person here.” She added that it’s also a great social event and a place to meet new people.

Though not quite as busy as usual, the market was still in session Wednesday night despite the snowfall and chilling winds. Zabel said they are always open during the scheduled hours on Wednesday and Saturday unless there is truly severe or potentially dangerous weather, and that Wednesdays are usually less busy than Saturdays anyway.

Zabel said one of the few issues they faced this year was all of the construction on Gilbert Street, which she hopes will be finished before the next market season begins. She added that once construction work on the adjacent park is done, they will probably let food vendors set up shop out there too.

Wednesday evening Michael Zimmer completed his 10th season of selling baked goods at this market. Zimmer said his peak times of year for business are actually the beginning and end of the Market season. There are far fewer vendors selling vegetables at these times so his delicious treats get more attention, especially in early spring when there haven’t been any vegetables to pick. When asked what makes this market unique, he looked back at the snow said the parking garage venue provides shelter from inclement weather – a luxury that vendors at most other don’t have.

The Iowa City Farmers’ Market runs from the beginning of May through the end of October on Saturdays 7:30 a.m. to noon and Wednesdays 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will also be special holiday markets on November 16th and December 14th from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, check out the Iowa City Farmers’ Market webpage, or contact Tammy Neumann via email

— American Exceptionalism 

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