Kelly Foss

Greater Des Moines Partnership
Executive Director, Downtown Farmers’ Market – Des Moines, IA
Number of years in the farmers market field: 17

Kelly is the Director of one of the largest and oldest outdoor farmers markets in the state of Iowa – The Downtown Farmers’ Market in Des Moines. Holding this position since 2000, she has played a major role in the development that this open-air Saturday farmers market has seen in recent years.
Under her direction the Downtown Farmers’ Market has recruited, encouraged and trained hundreds of local entrepreneurs, growers and artisans. She is passionate about connecting the entire community to the health, social and economic benefits of The Market.

Although the farmers market she manages is now bustling with more than 300 participating farmers and food producers and attracts nearly 25,000 shoppers each Saturday, it hasn’t always been that way. Kelly believes that a farmer’s market is never done growing, she is committed to continue to implement unique programming and experiences, and safety and aesthetic enhancements in effort to continually rejuvenate and create a fresh marketplace.

Kelly has shared her passion and knowledge of farmers markets through leading educational workshops, speaking at conferences and networking with farmers market advocates across the country.

Top 3 obstacles facing farmers markets:

  • Maintaining farmland, family farmers and growing new dedicated farmers.
  • Financial resources and funding to develop and grow farmers markets, farmers market programs (such as SNAP/DUFB) and support for skilled farmers market professionals.
  • Consumer Demand, not only through increased supply of farm fresh food within local groceries but also the ability and ease of ordering fresh produce, eggs, meat, cheese and other farm related food from online delivery services could be seen as an obstacle. We must continue to promote the social and community benefits of farmers markets.

Also a member of Iowa Farmers’ Market Association and Prairie Rivers of Iowa.