phynedyning

Head over to the Drake Neighborhood Farmer’s Market

In Shameless plug on July 21, 2011 at 2:50 pm

If major local news sources are to be trusted, nothing good happens in the Drake neighborhood.  It is the place of “guns, gangs, and drugs”, according to the mantra of the immaculately coiffed suburban blondes on the tee-vee.

The notable exception to what the perfumed set was saying about those other farmer’s markets was the opinion of Cityview readers who voted the Drake market “best”.

We simply had to visit the Drake market.  After all, I had a serious zucchini jones goin’ and our trips to the downtown market have been curtailed by the necessity of caring for two very old dogs.

Just look at what we bought!

The market sits on the parking lot of the First Christian Church at the corner of University Avenue and 25th Street.

We were greeted by Bob Dylan’s “The Times, They Are A-changin’”.  How apropos!

Two cheerful ladies handed out carry bags to market patrons and a warm smile was on the face of every vendor we met.

In the market proper, we found about twelve hopeful vendors.  None were selling clothing or future dumpster ballast (bric-a-brac).  But there was plenty of artisan breads, fresh poultry, asparagus, sweet corn, peppers…

…and zucchini to be had!

We heard no kvetching about “baby strollers and dogs”, even though many vendors had kindly thought to set out water for visiting pooches.  About a hundred and fifty people milled through the market during our half-hour visit.

It was a nice crowd on a scorching afternoon in the neighborhood.  Notably absent were the legions of accountant types and insurance bean counters wearing identical Hawkeye or Cyclone attire.  That fact probably also was a factor in the no kvetching observation too.

We walked through the market and sized up the produce.  It was gorgeous and the vendors were doing a brisk business because of it.

There were a couple of food stalls, but the market’s patrons did not seem to be interested.  The foods they were selling looked tasty.  So, I assume many people were thinking about finishing their necessary marketing quickly so they could retreat back into some cooler air at home.

Because of the heat, the market had a business-like air about it.  There were pleasant conversations and smiles all around, but people seemed anxious to finish their shopping and leave.

We quickly selected our squash, a pound of asparagus, and a dozen ears of “peaches and cream” sweet corn.  As we left the market, I realized that I had left my camera at home.  Because I was mentally smacking my head over my forgetfulness, I forgot about the passable camera on my phone.

A local hilal (sic) grocery kindly donated free parking to market patrons and when we left the market we were sure to go inside to give our thanks to its proprietor for the generous use of the shared parking lot.

Afterward, we did a post-mortem of our visit to the Drake Neighborhood Market.

The produce on display was very high quality.  Some appeared to have been brought in from grower’s wholesalers (the boxes stacked in the vendor’s trucks tipped us off), but there was a nice representation of homegrown stuff too.

Shoppers at the market were just as discerning as those at the downtown market.  We overheard an exchange between a vendor and a shopper over a basket of nice looking tomatoes.

“Are they hydroponically grown?” asked the shopper.  The vender looked a bit perplexed and replied, “They’re right out of my garden.”

“Are they organic?” persisted the shopper.  “They are garden grown and my whole family eats them every day.  So far, no deaths.”

The shopper threw her head back and laughed heartily.  She selected a basket and paid for them.

Such was the good-natured character of the shoppers and vendors.

While the Drake market could use a few more artisan vendors, we considered that the extremely hot weather (for Iowa) may have kept some of them away.  Unfortunately, there was a paucity of items like sweet potato vines and squash blossoms.  Again, maybe the vendors who carry these items were simply absent for the day.

However, our consensus opinion was that the Drake market is a worthwhile and delightfully laid back place to visit.

We can hardly wait for our next visit.

The Drake Neighborhood Farmer’s Market is held every (Summertime) Wednesday from 4pm to 7pm.  Visit their Website at http://www.drakefarmersmarket.com/

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