Going local never tasted so good

Anna Bellegante

The smell of samosa and mango paradise from Indian Delights mingled with the smell of freshly brewed tea from Ames British Foods. Laughing children were making dogs their new playmates while families relaxed on a nearby bench enjoying the gentle breeze and acoustic covers of their favorite songs. This can only mean one thing: The Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market is back for another season.

After its first year, the Main Street Farmers’ Market won the Best Image Promotion award for 2011 at the annual Main Street Iowa awards celebration in Des Moines — and business is thriving.

Vendor Mary Cory of Cory Family Farm said that the first year of the Main Street Farmers’ Market was more about building relationships with consumers. This year, she has noticed that business is much stronger.

“I think being here every week gives us credibility,” Cory said.

Cory went on to say that customers like being able to talk directly to the producers to ask questions not only about their products but also about their production practices.

Jayne Jackson of Ames agrees that as a consumer, direct communication with the producers of the market is very important. She likes to support the local vendors as much as she can.

“I think the prices are very reasonable, and you get things that you’re not going to get every day,” Jackson said.

In addition to the products, the festival-like atmosphere of the Main Street Farmers’ Market also makes shopping a unique experience. Local musician Sam Pattison said that the market has led to a lot of opportunities for him.

“[The Main Street Farmers’ Market] really supports the music scene. … It’s great for networking,” Pattison said.

There are many people to connect with at this event. Tom Drenthe, manager of the Main Street Farmers’ Market, said the market has seen about 1,700 to 1,900 people within the first few weekends of this season. These numbers are an increase in attendance from last year, where the market saw about 1,500 people per week.

Lonna Nachtigal of Onion Creek Farm said that she has noticed that the amount of people coming through the market is growing.

“Now I just wish every one of them would eat vegetables,” Nachtigal said with a laugh.

The Main Street Farmers’ Market offers a variety of vendors ranging from produce to meat, homemade ice cream to homemade baked goods, barbecue to international cuisine and much more. Handmade soaps, jewelry and other arts and crafts are also available.

“People need to come down and look at the [Main Street Farmers’ Market]. … It’s totally different,” said Karla Moore of Heart of Iowa Soapworks.

The Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon through Oct. 27.