The first thing you notice about Iowa and it does not matter how you get here, whether it be by air, train or car, is how manicured the state is. As far as you can see, in any direction, rows of corn are planted. If not corn, then it is beans. If not corn or beans, then it is hay. If not corn, beans or hay, then it is orchards of apples, pears or some other delectable fruit. Iowa State is a veritable Garden of Eden.
Every Saturday during the growing season, family farmers flock to their local farmers market to buy, sell and trade their goods. And, Iowa City is home to one of the most popular farmers markets in the state. Located on the ground level of the parking garage across from Iowa City’s city hall at 410 E. Washington Street, the Iowa City Farmers Market is the hot spot for fruits, vegetables, baked goods and homemade crafts from the locals.
While visiting, I found freshly made Russian and Dutch pastries, Amish fruit pies, and good old fashioned Carmel coated apples. Local honeys, regional wines, crates of organic fruits and vegetables were in abundance; all were being sold by the heaps. Mixed in with the fresh picked foods and vegetables were hot cart vendors selling their plate size waffles, made to order wood fired pizzas, and other assorted ethnic foods. The Iowa City Farmers Market is a virtual United Nations of foods.
The vendors are generous with the conversation; just as interested in telling you a story or a joke as making a sell. I saw unattended tills brimming with money as the merchants visited with old friends and made new ones. I saw no security here. Apparently, the attendees of the Iowa City Farmers Market believe in civility, kindness and enjoying the company of one another. I found flyers for a peace rally protesting the idea of America bombing Syria. The people that go to this market believe in giving peace a chance.
James Spring an artist and woodworker comes to this market for the people. Sure, he would like to sell everyone a handmade artisan bowl. But, if he makes a sell or two he is okay with that also; he knows that not everyone needs a beautiful, yet functional work of art. He enjoys the friendship of the people who come here. My co-worker, Jack, bought one of Mr. Spring’s bowls.
If you want to save some money, I encourage you to go down to the big box store where the employees are planning their protest, don’t really want to help you, and really rather be somewhere other than where they are. But, if you want to shop where people really want to talk with you and get to know you while they are selling you a freshly made lemon tart pie, a Dutch letter cookie, or a handmade craft, then get to the Iowa City Farmers Market. Where shopping, really is a pleasure.