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Cooking demonstrations, homemade goodies, herbs part of new Grinnell winter market



Summer is gone and with it the fresh produce and unique wares of the Grinnell Farmers Market. That is, until now.

Area residents can once again enjoy a local market through the winter months with the Winter Harvest Market held in Grinnell each Thursday.

The market was started by local producer Cyndy McNaul-Nelson, a regular summer market face with her KIOWA House of Herbs products.

“The main reason we decided to start the market is because a lot of customers wanted to know what they were going to do once the summer market was over,” she said.

Several vendors seen during the summer months have signed on to the winter market that is held in the Grinnell Veteran’s Memorial Building. Customers can buy fresh Iowa produce and other products, cream pies, jellies, pizza, soups, Mai’s oriental food, Iowa country cooking, Karen Kline’s soy candles, brooms, cutlery, Molly’s Dream Cat Toys and Sam’s organic vegetables.

“The winter farmer’s market allows other vendors to sell things besides just product,” said Nelson. Starting at 5 p.m., customers can take part in mini cooking demonstrations.

“We want to raise public knowledge of how to prepare fresh Iowa produce, like beets, for example,” said Nelson. “When people know how to prepare things, the more likely they are to buy it. Hopefully this will help increase vendors’ sales during the summer months.”


Nelson said it was as easy to set up the winter market as it is to make one of her cream pies. Once she found enough vendors who were interested, she contacted Margaret Long with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Nelson asked what the rule was on winter markets.

“She said they only monitored summer markets, but I was free to do any market during the winter,” said Nelson. She next contacted the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce to see if they had any objections.

“We were told we were free to do the winter market so long as we shut down by the time the summer market starts in May,” she said.

With the go-ahead from the Grinnell Chamber, Nelson and other vendors officially opened the market on Nov. 5.

“We have 10 vendors with us so far and three more plan to come in a couple of week,” said Nelson.

And the market is open to any other business and non-profits that would like to sell their products, said Nelson.


Nelson said the winter market will help those less fortunate in the Poweshiek County area. Nelson is the CEO of the non profit group Life Messages. Life Messages focuses on job skills mentoring for returning veterans, re-entrants, troubled youth and the unemployed.

Nelson said she hopes her profits from the winter market will be enough to make a down payment on the Malcom truck stop. Her goal is to purchase the location by spring.

“We want to purchase the truck stop for Life Messages,” she said. “We want to open up a year-round farmers market, bakery and buffet and also use it for youth gatherings and conventions.”

Nelson said that through the winter market she will work with Grinnell College, the Food Coop, Montezuma Sale Barn Café and the Hometown Harvest of Southeast Iowa to get fresh produce in school lunches.

“Customers can get good products and help support good causes,” said Nelson.

The Winter Harvest Market is held every Thursday, except holidays, from 3 to 6 p.m. until May 2010.

For more information on KIOWA House of Herbs and Life Messages, visit the Web site

UPDATED November 19, 2009 12:19 PM

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