This time of year, there’s no better place to shop for fresh produce and local products than the closest farmers’ market. In Jefferson City, Missouri, the Lincoln University Farmers Market – held every Saturday on the university’s campus – is one of the best.
The Lincoln University Farmers Market isn’t new to the scene – in fact, it’s been around for almost a decade – but shoppers are still likely to find something new, such as cranberry-almond sourdough from The Cultured Cantina or Missouri trout raised by the Lincoln University aquaculture program, each week.
For three seasons now, market manager Taylor Cleveland has been in charge of the market’s mission to not only provide a venue where local farmers can sell fresh food to the community but to help them outgrow it. “We go above and beyond the traditional farmers’ market in supporting farmers and helping them succeed,” she says. “The goal is to have a small farm start out at the Lincoln University Farmers Market, grow and then go to the Columbia Farmers Market, [for example].”
As crops become harvest-ready, the market fills with more and more vendors. On any given Saturday, you can expect to find eight to 15 farmers and artisan producers selling fresh produce, meats, jams, nut butters, baked goods, kombucha and more.
Ozark Yankee, one of the market’s long-standing vendors, sells everything from grass-fed and -finished beef to free-range chicken to goat milk fudge in flavors such as chocolate, peanut butter and coconut. Welcome Home offers a plethora of gluten-free baked goods – think iced lemon pound cake, raspberry-chocolate chip muffins, avocado cookies and cherry-coconut-cashew bars – that are also vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, grain-free and/or refined sugar-free. And as temperatures drop and the market inevitably transitions to only two Saturdays per month, a pair of vendors reach the height of their season: Brennecke’s Farm and Lucy’s both harvest native pecans and black walnuts by hand, for sale by the pound.
“We’re the only farmers’ market in Jefferson City that also allows craft vendors,” says Cleveland. “Most offer baked goods and things like that, but we offer a little bit more of a variety.”
The market accepts vendors from within a 50-mile radius, but Cleveland says that 85 percent come from within the city limits or right outside of Jefferson City. Small-scale organic farmers make up the majority of the roster – some of which actually started as customers. “People come to the farmers’ market and say, ‘Oh, I have a large garden; I didn’t realize I can sell at the market even though I’m not a ‘real’ farm,’” says Cleveland. “So we often get people that are doing it as a hobby and are trying to grow it into something bigger.”
To see what’s available at the market this week, check the farmers’ market Facebook page.
Lincoln University Farmers Market is currently open every Saturday from 8.30am to 11.30pm.
Lincoln University Farmers Market, 1002 Chestnut St., Jefferson City, Missouri, lufarmersmarket.com