Northeast Farmers Market kicks off season

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May 23, 2011
By: Margaret Shields
Margaret Shields
For most of the year, the parking lot of the St. Boniface Church at 7th and University in Northeast may seem like just another urban desert. Filled with snow piles for the better half of the year and reserved for churchgoers, funerals or weddings for the rest, the typical passerby probably wouldn’t give the space a second thought. But come Saturday mornings starting in June, look for a new scene.

A few coins drop into the jar of a seasoned musician strumming his guitar and the smell of waffles mixes with the sweet tang of Caribbean barbeque. Kids are happily running about, collecting castaway vegetable scraps to pile into a compost demo area. Meanwhile, parents and other passersby investigate the latest harvest and try samples of sweets and jams. Treasured finds are placed into canvas totes. From a distance, the ebb and flow of foot traffic resembles a highly decentralized beehive.

In the middle of the city, where a parking lot is far too often just a barren piece of asphalt, the Northeast Farmers Market helps us to re-imagine community gathering spaces. The parking lot of St. Boniface Church is a physical anchor for this transformation, connecting community members to healthy food, building relationships and growing a green local economy.

Part of a new wave of farmers markets being spurred by the burgeoning urban agriculture movement, the Northeast Farmers Market is an understated trailblazer. Now entering into its 11th season this year, the NE Market was the first community market to be established after the Minneapolis Municipal Market and continues to be a vital resource for community members to access small-scale, sustainable and locally produced produce, prepared foods, crafts and more.

In the 2010 season, the NE Market was one of just two community farmers markets in Minneapolis that accepted EBT, making it easier for low-income households to support local, seasonal, small-scale produce with their food assistance dollars. The market will continue to accept EBT in the 2011 season, as well as FMNP and WIC food support vouchers.

The 2011 Northeast Farmers Market touts made-to-order gluten-free pancakes, fritters and baked goods from Roving Dish, locally-roasted coffee from Northeast-based SiP Coffeebar, honey products from Bee Happy Honey, organic beef from Maple Crest Farms, raw Kombucha and sprouts from Q.ue Kombucha, and of course an every-changing array of seasonal produce — maybe even heirloom tomatoes from eQuality Farms by the first market! Become a fan of the NE Farmers Market on Facebook or @nemplsfarmersmarket to get updates about vendors and weekly market features.

FYI
The Northeast Farmers Market at 7th Avenue NE & University kicks off its season June 4. It’s open 9 a.m.–1 p.m. For more details, go to nemplsfarmersmarket.com. On opening day there will be a Pancake Breakfast ($6 at the door), made from local and sustainable source ingredients and held on site in the basement of the St. Boniface Church. The market’s season runs through mid-October.