There’s something about farmers markets that keeps that farm spirit alive and well inside of me.
Coming from a small dairy farm in southern Minnesota, near Austin, I have a real love for food products produced on the farm.
It’s that time of year again when farmers markets are appearing in many of our communities.
Visit them and enjoy some of the healthy foods offered.
In today’s column, I will give you some history on farmers markets and also provide links for you to find some farmers markets, hopefully in your communities.
Check out the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association at http://www.mfma.org/
Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association Mission Statement…offering services and programs that support and promote Minnesota farmers’ markets.
Friends come together
In March of 1998, 20 farmers’ market members from 15 established Minnesota farmers’ markets throughout Minnesota gathered to discuss issues that were important to local markets.
It was decided that we would benefit from establishing a formal network or organization that could represent Minnesota farmers’ markets as a focused voice and assist in growing and establishing local farmers’ markets.
There are many farmers’ market entities (and more forming) servicing farmers, growers and producers throughout Minnesota that can benefit by networking to:
• Effect Federal/State/Local Government regulations regarding:
Local Merchant Ordinances
• Focus marketing through Minnesota Grown promotions
• Co-op purchasing of market and vendor liability insurance
• Co-op purchasing of promotional advertisements and materials
• Connect farmers and growers with local market entities
• Promote and support acceptance of food assistance benefits such as SNAP, WIC, & FMNP
• Share educational resources and conduct seminars on the varied facets of farmers’ markets such as marketing, vendor procurement, food safety, liability, market management concerns, customer service, etc.
After brainstorming on the benefits of a unified farm market organization, several market members decided to establish the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association.
The Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association (MFMA) is now a statewide non-profit organization serving these needs!
What is a Farmers’ Market?
• Knowing Where Your Food Is Grown and Who is Growing It!
Farmers’ markets are an opportunity for the public to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and food products directly from farmers, growers, or producers.
Locally grown products are picked fresh and brought straight to the market and sold by the growers themselves.
If you want to know where your food is grown, how it is grown, and who grows it, visit your local farmers’ market today!
Check out Minnesota Grown at this website: http://www.mda.state.mn.us/food/minnesotagrown/procorner/mn-grown-about.aspx
The Minnesota Grown Program is a statewide partnership between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Minnesota producers of specialty crops and livestock.
It was created over 20 years ago by specialty crop growers to differentiate their produce from competitors produce from thousands of miles away.
The Minnesota Grown Program has over 1,100 diverse members including farmers’ markets, CSA farms, garden centers, wineries, fruit and vegetable growers, pick-your-own farms, livestock producers, meat processors, Christmas tree growers, and producers of honey, wild rice, maple syrup, cheese, and other gourmet products.
• People who grow, raise or process Minnesota products must receive an annual license from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to use the Minnesota Grown logo.
Retailers such as grocery stores and restaurants are allowed to use the logo without a license.
• Over two million price cards, stickers and other point-of-sale materials with the Minnesota Grown logo are used by producers and retailers every year!
• One of our most popular services is the annual Minnesota Grown Directory which includes over 840 members who offer their Minnesota Grown products for sale directly to consumers.
• The Minnesota Grown Directory is distributed statewide through Travel Information Centers, libraries, chambers-of-commerce, Explore Minnesota Tourism, member producers’ farms, and at special events like the State Fair and the Living Green Expo.
• A significant portion of the program’s budget comes from private sources such as advertising revenue, logo licensing fees and cost share programs.
• The Minnesota Grown website is used by more than 200,000 unique visitors annually.
To request a Minnesota Grown directory, go to http://www.mda.state.mn.us/food/minnesotagrown/mgdorderform.aspx
This year’s directory is the most comprehensive Minnesota Grown guide ever published, including 945 farmers markets, berry farms, garden centers, orchards, CSA farms, Christmas tree farms and more.
Follow these links
• Minneapolis Farmers Market: http://www.mplsfarmersmarket.com/FreshNews/
• Mill City Farmers Market: http://millcityfarmersmarket.org/
• Midtown Farmers Market: http://midtownfarmersmarket.org/
• Saint Paul Farmers’ Market: http://www.stpaulfarmersmarket.com/
Editor’s note: Howard Lestrud is ECM online manaing editor.