MU to hold farmers market Thursday

The MU market will be held once a month April through October.
Columbia resident Ken Duzan sells homegrown buttercrisp lettuce during the Columbia Farmers Market on Saturday at the Activity & Recreation Center. Duzan grows produce year-round in his greenhouse until the weather is warm enough to plant in the fields.

There aren't many places on Lowry Mall where you can get a personal-sized, homemade chocolate pie, but if you're there Thursday afternoon, Dennis and Barb Nobis will have the miniature confections — straight from their Paris, Mo., kitchen.

They will be among a dozen local vendors selling fresh produce and homemade sweets to students and staff Thursday at the MU Farmer's Market. The couple, married 41 years, run Grandma Barb's Pies.

Last Saturday at the Columbia Farmers Market, Dennis Nobis said he and his wife look forward to the additional business.

"We came to the last one and did really well," Nobis said, arranging small loafs of banana bread on the pair's table.

The MU Farmers Market will be held once a month in April through October and Columbia Farmers Market operates weekly sales, from March to December, at the Columbia ARC on West Broadway.

MU Wellness Resource Center dietician Julie Tobias said the campus markets would give students more access to healthier food.

"It's a good idea to introduce a lot of students who have never been to a farmers market or who don't have access to fresh fruits and vegetables," she said.

MU hosted a farmers market in September, which drew many student customers. Tobias said the WRC had asked the Columbia Farmers Market and the Boone County Farmers Market to hold events again through this summer, and they supported the idea.

Tobias said some of the markets at MU would take place over the summer break, but merchants would still get business from summer school students, tour groups and university faculty.

Nobis said he noticed many of their customers at the September market were MU instructors and staff.

"I was really surprised how many of those people came out," he said.

Managing a booth Saturday next to Grandma Barb's Pies, Art Gelder said he and his wife would have pork and fresh eggs for students at their booth on Lowry. Gelder and his wife, Vera, together run Walk-About Acres, a farm and garden located north of Columbia.

He said they were also looking forward to supplementing their weekend business with monthly sales at MU.

"We talked about going out to other markets, even in Hallsville," Gelder said. "We're always looking forward to spreading out a little bit."

Caroline Todd, market manager of the Columbia Farmers Market, said the market's brisk business in September was a main reason the market decided to come back for more markets this year. She said the market would give people at MU more access to local produce.

"It's to provide more healthy local fresh food for students and faculty," she said.

She said she did not know if the MU Farmers Market would be postponed if it rains Thursday. She said the Columbia Farmer's Market never cancels its market because vendors arrive early on market days to set up.

"We never cancel," she said. "When we do our market, we're there, rain or not."

Despite the cool and rainy weather, dozens of children and parents milled the market Saturday morning. One woman, like many customers, bought a pie from Gelder, who also sells pastries, while the shopper's son dragged a red wagon behind him half full of bread and sausage.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 5,200 farmers markets operate in the U.S. each year. That number is nearly triple the number of markets operating in 1994.

The department said the increase has been fueled by growing interest in buying locally grown food and interacting with the farmers who produce it. For 25 percent of those farmers, money made at farmers markets is their sole source of income.

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