Opinion | Iowa City Farmer’s Market supports shopping local

The farmers market recently celebrated its 50th anniversary –– half a century of providing the community with fresh local produce options.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Sam Wasson sells a watermelon at the Iowa City Farmers Market in the Chauncey Swan Ramp on Aug. 16, 2022.

Dell Harbaugh, Opinions Contributor

The Iowa City Farmers Market is a sight to behold, even in a downpour.

Vendors selling fresh produce, flowers, coffee, and baked goods bring flocks of people to East Washington Street and the Chauncey Swan Parking Ramp, come rain or shine. Customers come to hear live music, meet up with friends, and most importantly, support local businesses.

Purchasing food from the market contributes to the local economy, supports sustainable farming practices, ensures freshness, and leaves smaller environmental footprint than commercial options.

This past August was the 50th anniversary of the Iowa City Farmers Market. August marked half a century of valued involvement by local business for the Iowa City community.

The accessibility of out-of-season or non-native produce in grocery stores is often taken for granted. When buying from grocery stores, consumers tend to pay little attention to where food is grown or produced. Most brands don’t have their sources or farming practices outlined on the label.

Chain grocery stores often have produce shipped from across the country (or across multiple countries) to be made available to the public. The price of non-native produce is more costly, and quality is often lesser than local grown produce due to transportation.

Vendors at the Iowa City Farmers Market, being largely local, have a shorter distance to travel in more fuel-efficient modes of transportation than the commercial planes or trucks that transport grocery store produce.

Local vendors also tend to utilize more sustainable or reusable packaging and provide products that are guaranteed fresh. Rainbow Roots Farm, located five miles north of Iowa City, is operated by a few hands-on employees and grows certified organic produce.

Owner and manager of Rainbow Roots Farm Corbin Scholz said there are a few reasons the farm’s crew brings their fresh vegetables to the market.

“We come to the farmers market because we want to share our food with the local community and contribute to the local food-shed in Johnson County,” Scholz said.

Rainbow Roots Farm places a special emphasis on teaching the community about the value of organic produce, sustainable farming practices, and nutrient-rich foods. Scholz said Rainbow Roots’ farming practices also reduce erosion, improve air quality, and benefit the health of the community.

“We are practicing sustainability by taking care of the soil, and feeding the soil puts a lot of good nutrients into the vegetables,” said Scholz. “We look at our farm as a way of [implementing] preventative medicine. I know it’s just a drop in the bucket, but anything we can get is good.”

Rainbow Roots Farm is not the only vendor who cares about the health of the Iowa City community; in fact, most stands at the farmers market advertise organic or sustainably-produced wares.

With fall fast approaching, there are only a few Saturdays left for customers to visit the market before it closes at the end of October. For those who want the freshest fruits and vegetables Iowa City has to offer or who simply want to reduce their carbon footprint, there’s no better place.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.