DES MOINES, Iowa — For the first time since 2019, downtown Des Moines was bustling with shoppers at the Farmers’ Market on Saturday.
The sights and sounds of spring were in full bloom. “It is fantastic. Life is great. Happy spring y’all,” said Peggy Taylor of Des Moines. Along with that return is the Downtown Farmers’ Market. “It’s been a little emotional but it’s so amazing to see how many people are joining us to support our growers and producers,” said Kelly Foss, the market’s director.
The market was one of the many victims of the pandemic. Its entirety was canceled a year ago, which dealt a big blow to local vendors like Mai Yang Li of Mai’s Homegrown Flowers. “We lost a lot last year. Today is the first day so we are really happy. I’m so happy to see all the people.”
Many, like Patti Axland from Van Meter, were happy to reintroduce themselves back into public spaces. “It’s overwhelming. Being cooped up in the house for so long and coming out for the first time. It’s kind of nice though,” said Axland.
By allowing only vendors that specialize in fresh produce, farm and artisan packaged food organizers were safely able to kick off the 2021 farmers’ market season Saturday with the hope of slowly adding more businesses. Foss said, “Really focusing on local food production with farmers, makers and bakers. You can find meat, cheese, and eggs. Our prepared food vendors and our artists will be back as soon as we can in the coming weeks.”
To help with social distancing, vendors are also spaced much farther apart and wearing masks. One-way paths create a streamlined shopping experience and hand sanitizer stations help minimize the spread of germs. Axland said, “I think everybody is being very protective and obeying everything.”
Despite many visitors wearing masks, they couldn’t hide the clear joy many exuded as they strolled along Court Avenue. “Spring is such a great time for all of us to be able to rejoice in everything good,” said Taylor.
There were signs of spring and a hint of normalcy. “I’m fully vaccinated and I’m getting fresh flowers, honey and things for my garden back home in Algona,” said Chris Louscher. Opening day made sure everyone at least left with a priceless helping of positivity. “It’s the energy and the energy is so powerful and we’ve been missing that,” Taylor said.
Attendees are encouraged to adhere to the six-feet social distancing guideline while shopping at the market. Masks will be required for attendees and vendors.
The market is open every Saturday from May 1 through October 30, 7 a.m. to noon. Market hours in October are 8 a.m. to noon.