Doing my job

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September 26, 2005 // UPDATED 1:58 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Jeremy Stratton
Jeremy Stratton

Bao and Gao Yang


Minneapolis Farmers' Market

312 E. Lyndale Ave.

Summer is over for Bao and Gao Yang, and the Minneapolis Farmers' Market will have to go on without them. The sisters have worked the market daily for three summers, selling produce from their family's four-acre farm in Rosemount. Bao Yang said the long, hot days are tiring -- 4 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the market, followed by an evening's harvest in the field -- but that she'd miss the market once school started on Sept. 5.

They take time to talk with customers over the eggplants, beans, onions and the tiniest cherry tomatoes, each smaller than a marble. (The girls said the small tomatoes are sweeter than the bigger ones.)

Weekends are busiest, with three times as much produce and many more customers, depending on the weather. The family can bring home as much as $1,000 on a Saturday, or as little as $100, on weekdays.

This year has been bad for crops, Bao Yang said -- her grandmother's garden was destroyed by a tornado and, despite a rainy start to the season, drier days in July and August parched the soil and cut the yield.

"Everything pretty much died," Bao Yang said.

One item was selling aplenty on that particular weekday -- large bunches of "palaua source," as one woman called and spelled it. Although it costs $1 dollar a bunch, Africans buy the leafy green in bulk and make soup out of it, said the customer, who did not give her name.