MASON CITY, Iowa - It's a traditional summer event held throughout the United States: farmer's markets.
And with this week being designated National Farmer's Market Week, there's no better time than now to support local growers and producers.
Lisa Packer is a local food coordinator with Healthy Harvest of North Iowa, and has a presence at several markets in the area, including the North Iowa Farmer's Market in Mason City. Despite this season looking a bit different than normal, she says farmer's markets have seen strong community support throughout the year. She credits consumer changes in buying habits by choosing to buy and support local growers and farmers behind the growth, even before the pandemic ramped up.
"We saw an outage of toilet paper or when people were buying things that weren't on the shelf, where else could they turn to? I think that recognizing that there are producers, farmers, vendors within an hour's drive that come every week to provide you with healthy, fresh, local food."
She also notes the safety aspect that more shoppers are giving farmer's markets a shot.
"You're buying it from the person who grew it, who picked it, and who is now selling it to you. There are very few hands touching it, it's coming right to the farmer's market, right to your home. I think it's a very safe way, it's an outdoor market, and it's a safe way to shop for food, especially right now."
And by supporting local, Packer says consumers their dollars can go a long way.
"It increases money in our local economy. There are job security and livelihoods, you're supporting families. You're encouraging more jobs and employment for farmers who may employ seasonal workers or family members."
During this year's National Farmer's Market Week, the National Farmer's Market Coalition encourages shoppers to show their support by using the #LoveMyMarket hashtag.