COLUMBIA — Despite a chilly forecast, the Columbia Farmers' Market will have its first outdoor gathering on Saturday.
The market will run from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday until Oct. 25, and also Wednesday and Thursday afternoons as the weather warms up.
WHAT: Columbia Farmers' Market
WHERE: Activity and Recreation Center, 1701 W. Ash St.
WHEN: March 22-Oct. 25
HOURS: 8 a.m. to noon
At the peak of summer, the market hosts more than 70 vendors from the mid-Missouri region. Vendors must live within a 50-mile radius of Columbia, and only products farmers grow themselves can be sold.
In the early weeks of spring, produce will include lettuce, root vegetables and various greens. During summer months, there will be more options as berries, potatoes and peaches come into season. The market also sells a variety of other items, such as flowers and baked goods.
"It's simply a great place to go and get very healthy and local produce," market manager Corrina Smith said. "You get to know your grower and create relationships."
The market was organized in 1980 by farmers who wanted a more permanent location to sell their produce than the back of their pickup trucks at local gas stations. In 1995, the market established its permanent location in the open lot behind the Activity and Recreation Center, 1701 W. Ash St.
Vendor Dan Kuebler is in his 24th season with the market. His Salad Garden stand from Ashland has become a staple with more than 40 varieties of vegetables.
Now on the board of the Missouri Farmers Market Association, Kuebler said the state now has 240 farmers markets, including the Boone County Farmer's Market, which opens in April at 1005 W. Worley St. He attributes the success of the markets to the close-knit connections fostered between growers and buyers.
"It's all about personal relationships," he said. "You get your daily dose of community, talking about each other's lives all across the spectrum. It's very refreshing."
The Columbia Farmer’s Market is getting ready to move outside for spring. The market will be held March 22 to Oct. 25 at the Activity and Recreation Center.