To Market, to Market

Cheryl Trunnell, of Fort Dodge, has a certain method to her shopping excursions up and down Central Avenue during the Market on Central.

“I make a loop first,” she said. “Then I think about what I just have to have. Then I go back and make my purchases.”

She usually shops the Market, which takes place every second and fourth Saturday, with her husband, Jeff Trunnell.

“Jeff is looking for produce,” she said. “I’m looking for gifts.”

That was the case Saturday; he was on the hunt for sweet corn and tomatoes to supplement the garden harvest at home.

He has another important job too.

“I’m here to carry stuff,” he said.

“And protect his checkbook,” his wife added. “I don’t buy as much when he’s along.”

Among the vendors offering fresh produce was Meow Acres, owned by Elaine and Darwin Huls, of Grundy Center. Their motto is “Planted, pampered and picked with our own paws.”

Their unique offers included bags of lettuce, each containing a different mix of greens.

“They were picked last night,” Elaine Huls said.

They also have a variety of string bean that does something interesting.

“It’s purple,” she said. “It turns green as you cook them.”

They also have a line of jellies and jams, including some made with aronia berries.

“We grow the fruit,” she said. “We make the jelly.”

Many shoppers at the Market on Central begin their day with a favorite: a breakfast burrito from Olde Boston’s Restaurant.

Michael Payne, the Fort Dodge restaurant’s general manager, said they usually serve more than 200 of them at each Market. They are almost exclusive to the Market. The only other way to get one is to have an event catered.

Payne, wisely, won’t say what makes it an ongoing crowd favorite.

“I can’t tell you the secret,” he said. “If I did, then anybody could make one.”

Sheryl O’Hern, marketing manager for the Market on Central, said it’s been a good season.

The Market has also earned a place on the top 101 Farmers Markets, she said. The only other market from Iowa listed is the Downtown Farmers Market in Des Moines.

She said the local Market has been averaging about 45 vendors each weekend it is open, with 62 registered to participate.

The Market benefits both Fort Dodge’s downtown and the rest of the community, according to O’Hern. It serves as a small business incubator and, through the season, pumps about $1.5 million into the Fort Dodge economy.

A visitor can easily spend a long morning there.

“Come for breakfast, stay for lunch, take home dinner,” she said. “It’s our motto.”

There are three more Markets on Central left this season. They are on the second and fourth Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.