Andover farmers market open for business starting May 1

The annual Andover farmers market begins Tuesday, May 1.

Gene Schwartz (left) of Andover will once again be at the Andover farmers market at the Grace Lutheran Church parking lot this year. File photo by Eric Hagen
Gene Schwartz (left) of Andover will once again be at the Andover farmers market at the Grace Lutheran Church parking lot this year. File photo by Eric Hagen

The market will once again be in the parking lot of Grace Lutheran Church, 13655 Round Lake Blvd., on the southeast corner of Bunker Lake and Round Lake boulevards.

Stop by any Tuesday until Oct. 30 from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Gene Schwartz of Schwartz Family Farm in Andover has been coming to farmers markets in Andover for many years. It used to be run by the Anoka County Growers Association. The St. Paul Farmers Market has operated the market for the last five to six years, he said.

Schwartz said he plans to be there May 1 with whatever product he is able to sell. The early warm-up in March got the crops growing, but the frost in April set back the asparagus, for example. The rhubarb is just fine. He will know more about the radishes by Monday. The potatoes are starting to come above ground and the small potatoes will be up about the time this edition hits newsstands.

The peppers and zucchini are growing in his greenhouse.

Nancy Allen, office manager for the St. Paul Farmers Market, said the first few weeks of the market will likely have more products like jams and jellies, maple syrup, breads and flowers and not many vegetables until later in the summer.

Once the market hits its peak during the summer, however, Allen said the market will once again be full of vendors.

“It’s got good visibility,” Allen said regarding the Grace Lutheran Church site. “It’s been a very well attended market for us.”

Schwartz said both the vendors and the shoppers at the market are very nice and easy to get along with. This is the key for people to keep coming back.

According to Schwartz, times have changed because of large grocers in the area.

In the old days, people could not even buy produce in the winter so they had to buy larger loads in the summer and can the leftovers for the winter, but now people can just buy whatever they need for an evening meal, Schwartz said.

If they offer reasonable prices and are friendly, people will come back to the farmers market, he said.

Because he has been at the Andover farmers market since the beginning, Schwartz has got to know a lot of the people.

“It’s a pleasure every spring to see the people come back,” he said. This year, his daughter Laurie Lorenz will be assisting him in running their booth.

There will be at least one new vendor at this year’s market, according to Allen. JonnyPops was founded by five St. Olaf College sophomores in 2011 and is led by chief executive officer (CEO) Erik Brust of Mahtomedi.

The company manufactures frozen novelty pops made with real fruit, cream and sugar. It purchases fresh fruit and berries from local Minnesota farmers whenever possible. The company launched its product in March of this year.

“We stripped the concept of the ice pop that Popsicle introduced over a century ago down to the basics and built the JonnyPop from the ground up to be better tasting, better for you and better for the community,” Brust said.

The product is named in honor of Brust’s cousin Jonathan Jeffrey, who was a Duke University student when he had an untimely death in 2007.

Jeffrey had the idea about starting a business specializing in frozen gourmet pops. As a further tribute to Jeffrey, Brust decided that a portion of all proceeds would always be donated to The Hazelden Foundation, which is dedicated to helping people struggling with alcohol abuse, substance abuse or drug addiction.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]