CLINTON — Jean Morgan spends more than 10 hours a week weeding, planting and tending to 2-acre plot of land just outside of Camanche.
On a cloudy Thursday morning, she watches the clouds while walking between rows of onions to weed between heads of lettuce.
It’s all part of a service Morgan, along with a dozen or so other local gardeners and food artisans, offers to the community by selling at the Lyons Farmers Market.
The Lyons Farmers Market kicks off Saturday morning with local vendors selling their fresh vegetables, baked goods, meats and other locally produced goods. The market will be from 4 to 6 p.m. every Wednesday and 8 to 11 a.m. every Saturday at Four Square Park in Lyons. The official end date is slated for Nov. 2.
Market manager Ken Shelly said vendors will likely be sold out by 9:30 a.m. for the initial three weeks, but will have more stock as summer approaches.
Morgan is one of a handful of vendors who has been selling at the market for nearly the entire 30 years it has been running. Growing vegetables has been a passion of hers for many years and she enjoys offering her products to members of the community.
“I grew up with it. I liked gardening as a kid and it kinds of stuck with me,” Morgan said. “If I would have married a farmer, I would have been a farmer. But I didn’t, so I’m a gardener.”
While she cans some of the vegetables she grows, Morgan sells a bulk of them at the Lyons Farmers Market. The initial offerings will include spinach, lettuce, onions and radishes. As summer progresses, fresh vegetable-seekers will find sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans and an assortment of other produce.
As some vendors prepare for the market as they have for more than 20 years, others are preparing for their first.
Nick Huizenga, who along with Boyer Edens owns Whiteside Seed, will have his first run selling heirloom vegetables and seeds at the Lyons Farmers Market.
“I feel great about it. There are a lot of things out there that people don’t know about or have access to that have incredible taste,” Huizenga said.
Their desire to sell at the market was sparked by an overabundance of vegetables. Because they aimed to produce as many seeds as they need, Huizenga said they often found themselves with more vegetables than they needed.
“We don’t want to waste things anymore,” he said.
Preparing for the market can be a time-intensive task, according to Margo Hansen, another one of the handful of original Lyons Farmers Market vendors. She said some vendors spend as much as 10 to 40 hours per week assembling their goods. The time investment is worth the reward, she said.
Hansen’s stand will be stocked with her homemade jellies, jams and honey. Market-goers will find the mainstays such as strawberry and blackberry jelly, but they will also find some unusual varieties like beet, cantaloupe, wine and gooseberry. Most of her items are made from fruit she has grown herself.
“It’s fun to sell. It’s fun to watch the customers come and run into people they haven’t seen in a while,” Hansen said. “It’s kind of a social event.”
Beyond the familiar, friendly atmosphere, it’s the produce, meats, baked goods and other items that have made the Lyons Farmers Market a summer tradition.
“Everything is absolutely as fresh as you’re going to get and you know where it’s coming from,” Hansen said.
Market hours The Lyons Farmers Market kicks off Saturday morning with local vendors selling their fresh vegetables, baked goods, meats and other locally produced goods. The market will be from 4 to 6 p.m. every Wednesday and 8 to 11 a.m. every Saturday at Four Square Park in Lyons. The official end date is slated for Nov. 2.