For over a month now, I've had my sights set on visiting the year-round Farmer's Market in Ames, Iowa. This plan agreed with me in many ways...first of all, it's our old stomping grounds and full of great memories, second of all, Brent was going anyways for his Master's classes, and third of all, it would provide a chance to visit Wheatsfield Grocery Store (a co-op). There were numerous other reasons, but there is only so much time and space in this world.
The outdoor portion of the FM has been in existence since 1973, but the indoor part (the only part open this time of year) has only been available since November 2007. The space was small and cozy, and plenty of people available to ask questions. There were a multitude of products available, including soups and dips, meats (duck, goat, pork, beef), eggs, mushrooms, a veritable selection of breads, rolls, buns, jams, jellies, sauces, and seasonings. All of these things were homegrown, handmade, free-range, antibiotic-free, natural, and LOCAL! In addition, there was some beautiful handmade jewelry, trinkets, and crafts. Glorious!
I simply was unable to help myself. I purchased an whole duck, four pounds of ground pork, sausage seasonings, two goat sticks, a nice, round loaf of Italian herb bread, a bar of homemade soap, a sampling of reduced-sugar fudge, a package of sandwich sprouts, and some bracelets. All of this treasure - and I still came in under sixty dollars. The payout is much more for me, though. I bought healthier, simpler, and I boosted the local economy.
I walked out of there feeling positively giddy. It's too bad this place is an hour and forty five minutes away...I'd go every weekend if I could. I especially enjoyed talking to the ladies who run the place, and who, incidentally, provide all of the goods. They were knowledgeable, friendly, and full of suggestions. How often do you run across clerks or shelf stockers who have that kind of relationship with their products?
Like I'd be able to go Walmart or HyVee and buy "Twin Girls' Garden" ground pork, and actually be able to talk to one of the "Twin Girls." Like I'd be able to go to either one of those places and take a suggestion about growing my own sandwich sprouts from the lady who raised the ground pork I'll fix for my family later this week.
Gives a new meaning to "helpful smile in every aisle."