Perry Farmers Market summer season in full swing with new programs in 2021

COURTESY OF PERRY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

The 2021 summer season of the Perry Farmers Market began on Thursday, June 3 and will continue each Thursday through Sept. 30. The weekly market takes place 4-7 p.m. with vendors on 2nd Street in downtown Perry between Willis Avenue and Warford Street. That portion of the street will be closed to vehicular traffic starting at 2 p.m. Although the farmers market took up just half the block for the first two weeks, the footprint of the market will expand to the whole block during special events and as more vendors are added throughout the season. 

Special events with guest vendors will take place on the third Thursday of each month, starting with Health & Wellness Night on Thursday, June 17. Coinciding with the event theme, special guests include Dallas County Public Health, Dallas County Hospital and Family Medicine Clinics, Perry Lutheran Homes, Eye Care Associates, Perry Public Library, Dallas County Conservation and Snap Fitness. Hy-Vee will also be set up for a grill out. 

“This is something we started back in 2019 and put on pause in 2020,” said Lynsi Pasutti, Executive Director of the Perry Chamber of Commerce and Manager of the Perry Farmers Market. “The themed events were very popular in getting more folks down to the market and also providing an outlet for the special guests to reach the community, so I’m excited that we are able to bring them back this year.” 

Additional themed events with special guests include Public Safety Night on July 15, Back to School Night on Aug. 19 and Public Works Night on Sept. 16. 

Free sweet corn is handed out at the Perry Chamber booth on July 30, 2020, at the Perry Farmers Market as part of the Perry Library's Health Initiatives grant.

Back by popular demand, the Perry Public Library will continue their Healthy Steps program during the 2021 Farmers Market Season to encourage healthy habits. On a select day of each month, the library will purchase seasonal produce in bulk from a market vendor and then give it away at the market, while supplies last. Honey from Spring Valley Honey will be handed out on Thursday, June 17. Dates are still to be determined based on availability for the other giveaways, but it is planned for sweet corn in July, melons in August and apples in September. 

“The Perry Public Library is thrilled to again bring our Healthy Steps program to the Perry Farmers’ Market,” said Library Director Mary Murphy. “The Healthy Steps program is all about taking steps toward a healthier life by including fresh produce into your diet.”

Although it usually takes a few weeks into the season before a variety of produce is ready for harvesting, in just a few short weeks the selection is sure to be bountiful. Radishes, early lettuces and broccoli will soon be joined by tomatoes, zucchini and much more. In addition to seasonal produce and baked goods, more handmade items will return to the market this year. New vendors bring more variety for shoppers, including woodwork, jewelry and windchimes. 

Two new programs will make fresh produce more accessible to those needing assistance. Inspired by the library’s initiative, the Perry Area Emergency Food Council will be expanding their impact with their own program, thanks to a grant from the Bock Family Foundation. 

Mike Carter, with Hidden Acres, bags up fresh vegetables during opening day of the Perry Farmers Market on Thursday, June 3.

“Based on household size, persons receiving assistance from the Perry Area Food Pantry will also receive vouchers to be used at the Perry Farmers’ Market,” said Lou Hoger, Site Manager of the Perry Area Food Pantry. “These Market Dollars can be used on any items at the Perry Farmers Markets and will be redeemed by the market vendors through the Chamber and reimbursed by the Food Pantry. We believe this will be a win-win for our community, by expanding access to those in need and also helping drive traffic to the market and our downtown area. We are very thankful for the support of the Bock Family Foundation for this program.” 

Individuals that receive SNAP benefits, Iowa’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, can now use their SNAP benefits to purchase SNAP eligible food items at the Perry Farmers Market in two easy steps. First, SNAP customers are to stop at the Perry Chamber info booth to swipe their SNAP EBT card in exchange for tokens. SNAP customers will also receive Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) when using their SNAP EBT cards at the Market. Second, the SNAP tokens and DUFB are used as currency at vendor booths to purchase eligible items. Vendors later turn in these market currencies to the chamber. 

“This is brand new for us because it was such a long process to get approved, but I’m really excited that we can now accept SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks as payment at the Perry Farmers Market,” Pasutti said. “We had to turn away so many Double Up Food Bucks coming from Fareway last year since we weren’t yet authorized to accept SNAP benefits until the very last week of the season, so I know the need is definitely there. It might take a little while to catch on, but I think it will be a great service to our community.” 

Additionally, Minburn Communications is again providing free Wi-Fi to market goers. 

Despite recent updates to CDC guidelines, at this time vendors and shoppers are still encouraged to be cautious and courteous while at the Perry Farmers Market. Just as before, stay home if you feel sick, wear a face covering, wash and sanitize hands and surfaces and practice social distancing. 

For more information on the Perry Farmers Market, visit www.perryia.org/farmers-market.html or contact the Perry Chamber of Commerce at (515)465-4601. 

Vendors and shoppers are encouraged to be cautious and courteous while at the Perry Farmers Market.