Tales from the Mill City Farmers Market

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July 18, 2013
By: Serena Archer
The Very Prairie booth at the Mill City Farmers Market.
Serena Archer

You’re a high school student dreaming of your future. You’re a college student studying what you love. You’re out of college and working at a job that pays the bills, has pleasant coworkers, and appealing overarching concepts. So what’s the problem?

Day-to-day, you do the same work. You’re stressed all the time, so you must be working hard, right? Wrong. Your body is scurrying between projects, but your mind is still. You are physically exhausted. So, you take a vacation to “slow down” and “take some time to relax." You come back with more energy because you rested, but your mind stayed stagnant. The stress bounces right back as your body’s movement revs up.

Brain stimulation comes from your passion. That one thing you absolutely love, it might be canoeing, sewing, camping, cooking — whatever wakes up your brain. It stimulates you and allows you to return to your job not just rested, but more creative, focused, and productive.

For some people, this passion is the Mill City Farmers Market. The welcoming community, vibrant colors, and delicious food provide much needed stimulation. The market helps to inspire people to cook and eat local, fresh produce. Vendors from across the Midwest come to a little train shed next to the Mill City Museum to connect and share products and produce. Patrons come to the market with woven baskets, dogs, kids and excitement. They leave with armfuls of fresh, local produce, a cup of Guatemalan coffee, and maybe a few artisanal treasures. Each vendor has a story, and each story is unique. From the chocolatier’s local lavender fields reminiscent of the French countryside to the Peruvian man who weaves his story of life into a intricate rug, each story is fascinating and the vendors are more than willing to share.

One of these stories comes from Susan Dietrich of Very Prairie.  Her booth at the market radiates the same warmth as you would imagine of her kitchen. She sells baked goods, miniature pies, homemade pasta and whole wheat crackers. Susan says that she uses organic ingredients because “they just taste better!” Susan and her daughter welcome every shopper into their booth with a smile so big you just can’t help to smile back.

Another vendor with an intriguing story is Swede Lake. With one of the most impressive ranges of products, from worm castings to chard to salsa, Swede Lake embodies the market's celebration of diversity and love for farming. For years, they collected and cultivated over 50 distinct varieties of garlic from across the world. Backpackers in Kazakhstan and Danish Seed Savers Alliance alike brought seeds to Swede Lake in the hopes that they would be able to harvest the ancient garlic varieties. In 2012, Swede Lake lost every single variation of garlic due to a virus called Phytoplasm. Swede Lake was understandably devastated by this event, but they have been working hard to rebuild garlic seed collections with terrific support from the local community to help them get back on their feet.

The Mill City Farmers Market is a place where people come together to share a love for local, organic produce and artistry. Every single vendor has a story, and I invite you to ask them what makes their business unique. Vendors and shoppers alike can discover and cultivate passion at the Mill City Farmers Market.

Your job doesn’t define you. What makes you passionate does. Come visit the Mill City Farmers Market, 750 2n St.,  and find your passion. The market is open Saturdays, 8 a.m.–1 p.m. For more information, visit www.millcityfarmersmarket.com.

Serena Archer is a Mill City Farmers Market intern.