There’s something about strolling through the market in the early morning that starts the day off right. It’s not just the fresh local produce, but also the conversations with producers. Shaking the hands that just harvested so much delicious food just feels right.
Columbia Farmers Market
Established in 1980, the Columbia Farmers Market is the longest-standing market in town. Stemming from a Saturday morning start, now you can pick up fresh produce, meats and other items three days a week — Wednesday and Saturday in the ARC parking lot, and Thursday in the parking lot of Forum Christian Church during the outdoor season. During the winter, the market relocates to Parkade Center.
You can browse the offerings of more than 70 producers, all located within a 50-mile radius of Columbia. This fall, the Columbia Farmers Market will break ground on the new Agriculture Park, a year-round covered facility to house the Market.
“You have the ability to purchase the freshest food possible, straight from the source that grew it. And in this digital age that we live in, the ability to interact and get together with your community is becoming more and more rare. When you can actually go somewhere and interact with someone face-to-face on a regular basis, that is something that’s really special,” says Executive Director Corrina Smith.
Making foods accessible to low-income families is another lesser-known benefit of the Columbia Farmers Market. “Not only can we accept SNAP, we offer two matching programs at the market. Families that have kids 19 and under that are on SNAP or WIC can match up to $25 every Saturday. Then we have another program called Double Up Food Bucks, which is a national program where they can match another $25 at any market. So on Saturdays, some families can match up to $50 at the market.”
Orr Street Farmers and Artisans Market
Sunday morning brings a flock of local craftsmen, farmers and food trucks to the Orr Street Farmers and Artisans Market, held in the Wabash Bus Station lot downtown. Grab a bite to eat from the Ozark Mountain Biscuit Truck or Grill-A-Brothers while you peruse produce and crafts. Feel free to bring along your leashed pups, too, and enjoy live music from local artists. Open Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Boone County Farmers Market
A fellowship of farmers, producers and artisans gather in the Columbia Mall parking lot on Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon, April through October. The market boasts goods from over 20 different producers from Boone County and surrounding counties. The original founders of the Columbia Farmers Market, along with others, formed this market in 2003.