Mario Lebron to step up as Farmers Market manager
by Margaret Hurlbert
March 16, 2023

MUSCATINE, Iowa–As the Muscatine Area Farmers Market prepares for its 30th season, it welcomed Merrill “Mario” Lebron as its new manager. Lebron succeeds Jennifer DeFosse, who served as the market’s manager for the past 11 years before stepping down to pursue new opportunities. With market season rapidly approaching, Lebron looks forward to stepping into his new role and continuing to grow this Muscatine institution.

Lebron first began selling at the Muscatine Area Farmers Market in 2020 as he and Darryl Ravary started the Merrill Soap Company. Last season, Lebron took an interest in playing a bigger role in helping with the market. He shared, “I had let some of the board members know that I was interested in stepping up and serving on the board if the opportunity ever came up.” In February they did him one better, offering him the chance to serve as market manager, a role he gladly accepted.

As market manager, Lebron will oversee the market’s week to week operations to ensure everything runs smoothly for shoppers and vendors alike. He will also stay up to date on the legal requirements for farmers’ markets to ensure the Muscatine Area Farmers Market remains in compliance. He would like  to attract more vendors too, as selling at local markets can provide a great starting place for aspiring business owners: “I want people to know how important the farmers market is to entrepreneurs like myself. We started off at the farmers market, and now we have a brick and mortar shop,” he emphasized. “I will be seeking out new artisans and musicians for the market.”

Mario Lebron, Muscatine Area Farmers Market director. Photo courtesy Mario Lebron.

To that end, Leborn welcomes anyone curious about becoming a vendor to contact him by emailing him, texting him at 563-220-2708, or Facebook messaging the Muscatine Area Farmers Market page. He also plans to announce a date for a prospective vendors meeting soon.

As in years past, the Muscatine Area Farmers Market will take place each Saturday morning from May 6 through Oct. 28 from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Regardless of the weather, numerous vendors of all types, selling fresh produce, hand crafted goods, prepared foods, and more, will make their wares available for Muscatine residents to shop from. Possible musical performances will add a festive air to the market’s bustle of activity. In past years, the market has piloted holding additional midweek markets in other locations. Due to lower vendor and customer turnout and interest, the market will take place only in its original location at the usual Saturday times.

With the start of this year’s Muscatine Area Farmers Market less than two months away, Lebron feels excited to start his time as the markets director. “I am looking forward to the excitement and camaraderie of the vendors and brining in new vendors to offer what we currently don’t have,” he said. With the continued support of the community and the dedication of regional vendors, he knows that the market’s 30th year will stand out as one of its best so far.

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