The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

August 3, 2013

Farmers markets form Iowa bonds

FAIRFIELD — Darcie Clingan wasn't working for herself at the stall. She was filling in, and it was busy.

The Fairfield version of a farmer's market is something out of an older time. It's half open-air grocery store and half bazaar, with stalls lined up under the trees at Howard Park. About half of them sell things you wouldn't necessarily expect at such a market. Wood bowls and homemade jewelry sit comfortably alongside stalls filled with greens and vegetables.

Clingan isn't new. She has helped out with her friends' stall a handful of times. But this time was a bit different as she filled in for a couple on vacation.

“We're fellow farmers,” she explained. “We're neighbors. They taught most of my children.”

So when asked if she could run the stall, saying yes was a natural response. Besides, she said, “It's fun. It's just fun to be out here.”

Sunday kicks off National Farmers Market Week, and Iowa is unveiling a new smartphone app to help people find the markets closest to them. Available for both iPhone and Android systems, the free app allows people to search by city or zip code. Visitors can use the phone's location services to search if they aren't sure whether there's a market nearby.

Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey said the state has seen “tremendous growth in the number and size of farmers markets,” which made the app a natural way for people to find the information.

Charles and Kathy Newton are familiar with southeast Iowa markets. They're farmers, of a sort, and their labor is as cheap as you can get. Their bees don't want to get paid with anything more than a hive to live in.

“I'm just kind of strange,” Charles said. “I've always been interested in bees. I met a guy who had some and, next thing you know, I had some.”

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