Feature Friday: Furleigh Fruit and Vegetable Farm

In 1956, on his hands and knees, Robert Furleigh planted one acre of strawberries just east of Clear Lake. As a recent Iowa State University College graduate, Robert had returned to the family farm with big aspirations. Sixty-one years later, Furleigh Fruit and Vegetable Farm has grown to cover 20 acres producing a wide variety of produce. While Robert and his wife, Donna, continue to be active in the operation, it is their grandson, Erik, who now manages the family business.


Erik Furleigh examines some of his strawberry plants that were planted this spring.

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No Yard? No Problem! 5 DIY Garden Projects for People who don’t have Space for a Garden

Do you love to garden, but don’t have the space? Or maybe you would like to learn, but the place where you currently live isn’t feasible to start a traditional garden. Regardless of your circumstances, here are 5 simple ways to start your own garden without a lot of space!

*Article originally published by Alanna Ketler in Collective Evolution* 


1. Plant What You Can Indoors
Great news, if you have windows, you can grow things! Certain varieties of tomatoes can be grown very well indoors and even in the winter, simply plant in a hanging basket and hang in front of a window that gets a lot of sunlight. You can also start a mini a herb garden by your window or by planting herbs in small containers. You can also attach mason jars to pieces of plywood and fasten them to the wall to start growing the herbs in jars, just make sure that this wall gets enough sunlight.
2. Use Pallets Or Start A Vertical Garden
A pallet can be a great tool to use to grow herbs and even lettuce on your balcony during the warmer months, and a great way to recycle old pallets as well. They are relatively easy to find and can sit neatly against the wall on your balcony or patio. For instructions on how to make a pallet garden, click here. Shoe organizers that are often used in closets can also be a great tool for vertical gardening and growing plants as well.

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Feature Friday: BE WELLness, Clear Lake

When Ashley and Shea Coleman settled down to start a family they noticed that finding a single, one stop shop to buy local was impossible to find. Taking matters into their own hands, they founded BE WELLness, Clear Lake, a health and wellness cooperative encouraging healthy and local eating in North Iowa. Established just three years ago, BE WELLness is proud to have four excellent employees working under the family owned business. BE WELLness makes it a priority to source their “specialty” market with local food. Depending on the season, 30-50% of BE WELLness inventory is locally produce (within 150 miles) of Clear Lake.


BE WELLness works diligently to provide their customers with a wide variety of healthy, local food options.

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Farmers Markets Stimulate Local Economies

On the next visit to your farmers market, take a moment to observe the wheels of your local economy in motion. The rows of fresh, colorful produce. The delicious aroma of sizzling fare. The neighborly conversations. At the center of this lovely atmosphere transactions take place between farmer and customer; the exchange of money for goods.

Enticed by festive sights, sounds, smells, and tastes, more and more people choose to shop at farmers markets. According to an impact study conducted by Civic Economics, locally owned retailers like farmers markets return more than three times as much of their revenue to the local economy than do their corporate competitors. This means your farmers market purchases not only stock your pantry with fresh, healthy food, but recycle money throughout your community, boosting economic activity and job creation.

And as the demand for local food continues to grow, farmers markets are recognized as important retail anchors for economic commerce. The more than 8,500 markets nationwide are the impetus of consumer support for local farmers – while at the same time create opportunities for small businesses to stimulate local and regional economies. Farmers markets are more than just a venue for fresh food and a friendly atmosphere; the revenue they generate helps your community prosper.

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North Iowa Farmers Market Off to Great Start at New Location

The North Iowa Farmers Market (NIFM) started their summer market season on Friday, May 19th despite the rainy weather. Vendor expectations were cautiously optimistic about the day, and rightfully so. The opening market is usually slow, a lot of produce isn’t in season yet AND the market moved this year from the Mills Fleet Farm parking lot. Vendors were pleased to find that customer traffic held steady from the start of the market at 4:00 p.m. until closing at 6:30 p.m.

“I looked at our records and we did 5 times as well [this opening] Friday as we did any other market in May from the previous years”, says NIFM vendor, Becky Huang. Five years ago, Becky and her family established North Iowa Berries and More where they grow, harvest and market chemical free fruits and vegetables among other items.


North Iowa Berries and More brought a variety of items to the opening market including fresh produce and baked goods.

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Feature Friday: North Iowa Berries and More LLC

When Becky and Jesse Huang first moved out into rural Mason City from town, they never dreamed they would become “farmers”, yet when Jesse lost his job of twenty years the Huang’s needed another source of income for themselves and their 7 children. And so, with the help of their Mennonite friends and neighbors, they learned how to grow their own fruits and vegetables on their 3.5 acre farm.

“All our farming practices are chemical free,” says Becky Huang, “at the time of starting our business, we noticed that it was difficult to find stores and vendors growing their products without the use of chemicals. For the needs of our family and for the benefit of our customers, we decided to fill that niche”.


North Iowa Berries and More is a 3.5 acre farm growing a variety of fruits and vegetables. This year, the family is growing a lot of their greens in their high tunnel utilizing a drip irrigation system to water their crop. 

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Top 5 Reasons to Buy Local

At the North Iowa Farmers Market, we are passionate about providing you with the highest quality, locally produced goods and produce you can find! There’s countless reasons to buy local but with the start of our summer market season just one week away, we wanted to share with you the North Iowa Farmers Market Top 5 Reasons to Buy Local.

1. It just tastes better.
Commercial fruits and vegetables are often grown to have tough skins that prevent produce from bruising while shipping. This industry also tends to focus more on how the produce looks, rather than how it tastes. At the North Iowa Farmers market, all goods and produce are locally produced so our producers are able to worry less about the ship-ability of their produce and focus more on what’s important: quality and flavor.


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Feature Friday: Maple Grove Farms

Mary Jane Newswanger wanted to start a business to supplement the income from their 200 acre corn and soybean family farm that was established in 2001. As an avid gardener and living only 20 miles away from the North Iowa Farmers market, growing and selling fresh produce sounded like an opportunity. Fourteen years later she and her family are still capitalizing on that opportunity and have been selling their high quality, fresh produce at the farmers market every season since.

Newswanger Cattle

In addition to corn and soybeans, the Newswanger family farm also raises cattle.

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Meet the Market Manager: Sarah Tweeten

The North Iowa Farmers’ Market (NIFM) is pleased to announce the hire of their new Market Manager, Sarah Tweeten. Sarah grew up on a farm near Kensett, Iowa where her family continues to farm corn and soybeans. She graduated from Central Springs High School in 2011 and went directly to Iowa State University in the fall of the same year. Sarah obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Communications and a minor in Journalism in May of 2015. Throughout her college career, Sarah held a variety of internships with both Worth and Story County Extension and Outreach and Iowa Corn. She also had the opportunity to attend a two week study abroad trip to Panama. Sarah enjoyed staying active in a variety of on-campus organizations during college such as the Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ambassadors.

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We're Moving!

We’re pleased to announce a new downtown location for the 2017 season!

The North Iowa Farmers Market will move to the city parking lot at the corner of 1st Street NE and Delaware – just south of the First Congregational Church.  The church has graciously agreed to open their certified kitchen, restrooms, and parking to support the market.

The move will be made to gain more visibility, provide walking/bike/bus access, and contribute to the synergy of downtown activities.  The North Iowa Farmers Market thanks the City of Mason City for their support with this move, and Main Street Mason City for their encouragement, as well as the support of the surrounding downtown businesses for their welcoming energy.

The North Iowa Farmers Market would like to take this opportunity to thank Mills Fleet Farm for their hospitality during the last 3 years.  Mills Fleet Farm management always responded to market needs and requests – their support is appreciated.

We are currently set to open on Friday, May 19th. More details to come – we look forward to seeing you at market!

For anyone interested in becoming a vendor for the 2017 season, please consider joining us for our Spring Vendor Meeting on Tuesday, March 28th at 6:30p.m. at the First Congregational Church (100 1st St., Mason City).