It’s hard to believe, but farmers market season is already here. The nationally recognized Des Moines Farmers Market opens this Saturday, May 4, and many small-town markets across the state also will welcome vendors and customers soon.

The Des Moines market has turned into a social event with customers browsing the selection of fresh produce, eggs and meat on lazy Saturday mornings while taking selfies, munching on breakfast sandwiches and soaking in live entertainment. The market continues to expand and now supports more than 300 small-business owners representing 42 counties. 

At the other end of the scale, there’s a new group reviving the local farmers market in my small town. They plan to start small at first, holding two markets every month, but it’s been fun to watch their ideas percolate on social media the past couple months. 

The interest in farmers markets and local foods seemed to take off after the COVID-19 pandemic, when customers found some grocery store shelves empty. Farmers are rising to meet the demand with more and more participating in town square markets, inviting customers to their farms or launching subscription services through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. 

I hope you’re able to visit a market near you this summer. When you do, you might carry your purchases home in a Farm Bureau bag. Each year, Iowa Farm Bureau donates more than 1 million bags to farmers markets throughout the state, a program that has been in place since 2006. It’s one way we can all support local farmers and taste some of the great food grown in our state.