What's new, what returns to Downtown Farmers' Market?
Into every farmers' market season a little kale must fall.
Still, that's no reason to miss out on Des Moines' annual six-months-long circus, fair, rock concert, stroller brigade, dog show and health expo all rolled into one. Sound the trumpets and roll out the breakfast burritos! The Downtown Farmers' Market, which is celebrating its 40th year this summer, begins in two short days.
Shortly thereafter, the Kale Industrial Complex will begin its campaign to convince eaters that it tastes good. But that's OK. You can get your antioxidants and XYZ vitamins and superpowers while also enjoying a greasy egg roll washed down with a blueberry Danish and a Bloody Mary.
That's what's great about DTFM. There's some things naughty and some things nice. And kale.
Meet some of the vendors, longtime and new, who will be feeding your family — and your own pie hole — this summer.
JOIN US: #IA365 photowalk at Saturday's market
ABOUT THE FARMERS' MARKET
The Downtown Farmers' Market opens May 2 at 7 a.m. and runs every Saturday, rain or shine, through Oct. 31. The market stretches east-west from Fifth Avenue to First Street, and north-south from Walnut to just north of Court Avenue.
Oldies but goodies
Thill's Produce: James and Lillian Thill, Pleasantville
- Where the booth is located: Southwest corner of Fourth Street and Court Avenue
- For sale: Fresh vegetables, baked goods, a few crafts — crochet hats, tea towels, tiles
- How long at DTFM: The Thills started about 1975, when the market was a newborn.
- Most popular items: Cinnamon rolls, green beans
- Factoid: The Thills farmed row crops and animals and used the market to supplement their income, said their daughter Brenda Wadle, who runs the booth for her parents. "It's a family thing."
- Saturday morning wake-up time: 3:45
Cricket's Gardens: Leora Laughery, Guthrie Center
- Where the booth is located: South side of Court Avenue in front of Legends American Grill
- For sale: Baked goods, eggs, produce, rabbits; also taking limited orders for chickens.
- How long at DTFM: Since 1991
- Most popular items: "It sounds strange," Laughery said, "but a lot of people like my gooseberry pie."
- Factoid: Laughery raises chickens like her grandparents did, running around outside. He uses as much natural feed pest control as possible. Laughery also works for the Guthrie County sheriff's department.
- Saturday morning wake-up time: Between 2:30 and 3
Westrum Produce: Cindy and Mark Westrum, Stratford (Find it on Facebook)
- Where the booth is located: South side of Court Avenue in front of Spaghetti Works
- For sale: Vegetables, fruit, morels if they've found some, eggs and sweet corn
- How long at DTFM: Since 1993
- Most popular items: Sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes. "We'll have a line for morels if we have them," Cindy Westrum said. "Strawberries are easy to sell but hard to grow."
- Factoid: Westrum Produce is a family farm, and a couple of the Westrums' six children work on the farm full-time. Cindy said she started the garden to keep the kids busy and teach them to work hard. Sales from the farm have paid for the kids' college educations.
- Saturday morning wake-up time: About 3:30
Farmers' Market newbies
NOTE: New vendors start as "occasional vendors" and are not at the Market every weekend.
Dangood Garden: Daniel Heldt, Johnston (Find it on Facebook)
- Where the booth is located: Fourth Street just south of the Lift.
- Dates: May 30 and every week after
- For sale: Vegetables and a wide variety of peppers, from hot and sweet.
- Experience: This is Heldt's third season as a business; in previous summers he has sold his produce at the Valley Junction, Beaverdale and (former) Merle Hay Mall markets.
- Factoid: Dangood Garden is pretty much a one-man show, and this is Heldt's first year farming full-time.
- Estimated Saturday morning wake-up time: "Pretty early."
- Where the booth is located: Fourth Street.
- Dates: May 2, 9, 23; June 6, 27; July 11, 25; Aug. 8; Sept. 12; Oct 10.
- For sale: Artisan sheep-goat's milk cheese (combined) into three types of chevre. Feldman said she will have very limited quantities at the beginning of the season and as production increases she will be adding different chevre flavors. Early on, she will also have a Parmesan that has been aged in Templeton Rye barrels. Later in the season, Feldman will sell tomme-style (alpine) cheese. She also sells goat's milk soaps and lotions and small bags of wool for birds' nests.
- Experience: Technically, Feldman's dairy just opened in 2014 ("I was so excited I danced with my inspector!") but she has been a cheese maker for about 10 years.
- Factoid: Feldman shares the milk with the mother goats and sheep, which limits her supply until the babies are weaned. And, Feldman said, "It's unique because there is nothing like sheep and goat milk mixed. It makes a very mild, sweet cheese."
- Estimated Saturday morning wake-up time: About 3
River Island Baking Company: Gina James Pritchard (Find it on Facebook)
- Where the booth is located: The booth will be moving around a little bit.
- Dates: May 2, 23, 30; June 6; July 4, 18, 25; Aug 1, 15, 22, 29, Sept. 26; Oct. 3, 10, 24, 31.
- For sale: Vegan cakes and gourmet cupcakes; fruit hand pies. There will be about six flavors at each market that will change from week to week.
- Experience: This is Pritchard's first market experience. She has been selling her baked goods to area customers through her Facebook page.
- Factoid: Pritchard said she focuses on providing a healthier treat that tastes amazing. "It's better for you than the average cupcakes, more sustainable, and just better all around." Pritchard can also do special orders for gluten-free or other allergen-free cupcakes.
- Estimated Saturday morning wake-up time: "Really early, but I'm a pretty early riser anyway."
New stuff you should know about
Rise and Shine Market Deals
Text "Market" to 46986 to subscribe to Rise and Shine Market Deals. You will receive exclusive offers each week. By texting 46986 you are opting in for a weekly text; standard data and messaging rates apply. You will receive an alert every Friday with the first offer. If you choose to, you may continue to reply "More" to receive all the deals for the next day's Market. Opt out any time by texting "Stop All."
The messaging program was introduced as a pilot mid-season last year and sent 21 messages to nearly 500 subscribers. For 2015, the program officially rolls out and all vendors and have been invited to participate.
The Downtown Farmers' Market is working with UnityPoint Health-Des Moines to share a recipe each Friday morning; the recipes will be provided by dieticians from UnityPoint Health-Des Moines, and include a list of ingredients you can shop for at the Downtown Farmers' Market the next day. Get the recipes on the DTFM's Facebook page, on UnityPoint Health-Des Moines' website at www.unitypoint.org/desmoines or pick up a recipe card at UnityPoint's booth (at the southeast corner of Third Street and Court Avenue) on Saturday mornings.
New stuff you can buy
Thirty-six new vendors will bring an array of new products for Market shoppers to peruse:
- Farmstead cheese combining sheep and goat's milk
- An expansive selection of peppers ranging from mild to the hottest known peppers
- Vegan baked goods including cupcakes, hand pies and cookies
- Handcrafted essential oil-based beard, hair and skin products
- Letterpress prints and cards made with antique presses
- Djonuts gourmet-specialty doughnuts from scratch
- Neonicotinoid insecticide-free perennials that benefit birds, bees, butterflies and hummingbirds
- Hand-knit scarves using hand-spun and hand-dyed wool (September and October)
- Emu meat and eggs
- Shiitake, oyster and lions mane mushrooms
- Duck, turkey and goose eggs