COLUMBIA — Cyril Penner of Bountiful Acres has rainbow eggs. Chocolate brown, mint green, light tan, speckled — they were all laid by just a few of his dozen breeds of chickens.
If it weren’t for the new south location of the Columbia Farmers' Market, he would not be selling them nearly as often as he would like.
“We are planning on making this as big as the Saturday market,” Penner said.
The south market is located in the parking lot of Forum Christian Church, 3900 Forum Boulevard, and will be open 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays until Oct. 28.
Penner and his wife became vendors at the market for the same reason people shop there. He said that once he saw the ingredients on a tub of margarine, he could never eat non-natural food again. He started raising his own chickens and planted a garden in order to live sustainably and decided he wanted to share his lifestyle with others. The expansion of the farmers market allowed the Penners, as well as many others, to bring healthy, natural food to Columbia customers.
The south market is just one of three new locations. The other spots will be at Boone Hospital Center and Rock Bridge Christian Church, which will serve as an indoor market during the winter.
Mark Mahnken, president of the Columbia Farmers' Market and owner of Missouri Legacy Beef, said that the original plan of having a market three times a week was not enough. Mahnken lives in Salisbury and makes the drive to Columbia every week to work the Wednesday and Saturday markets at the Activity and Recreation Center. It looks like he will be staying for Thursdays as well, he said.
The additional locations will expand the market’s availability to four times a week.
“We want to make it convenient for all consumers that want to eat healthy food,” Mahnken said.
Mahnken said the new markets emerged because of an overflow of vendors and customer demands.
“It's not just about the farmers, it’s about the customers," Caroline Todd, market manager, said. "Our customers wanted us to be here."
Customers wanted more access to the market so badly that they even took matters into their own hands. Todd said that Rock Bridge contacted her first about having an indoor market, and it was Jim Quinn of the MU Extension that suggested the Forum location.
Details of the Boone Hospital Center location will be discussed at the hospital Board of Trustees meeting on June 21.