Supporting farmers in times of need

If you’ve ever walked through the Mill City Farmers Market on a Saturday morning, you may notice there is something that distinguishes it from other shopping experiences.

Not only do over 120 local farmers and artisans transform the historic train shed overlooking the mighty Mississippi into a bustling marketplace, but they also create a community.

Farmers educate shoppers about this year’s sweet corn harvest (it will be going late into September) and the Alaskan fishing season (sockeye goals were met!). Local artisans explain their crafts through weaving demonstrations, small-batch sauerkraut samples, bees buzzing in a tableside beehive and even a sourdough starter on display, bubbling away in the morning heat. You will also see neighbors gather to support healthy foods and local farmers.

Benefit Sign at market 2017

One way they do this is through the Mill City Farmers Market’s Organic Field Grant, which started in 2013 as a way for our community to support their farmers in times of crop loss, structural damage and other forms of hardship. It has since grown into a program that not only offers hardship support but also funds small farmers and food makers working to improve sustainability in their businesses.

Since 2013, the Mill City Farmers Market has awarded almost $67,000 to grantees. The grant program is funded through donations at the market’s annual fundraiser, the Harvest Social, coming up on Sunday, Sept. 10. The event includes farm-to-table dinner sourced from the market’s vendors, live music, a silent auction and a passionate live auction and Fund-A-Need that directly supports the market’s grant program.

Rona smiling dawn 2 dusk

Moses Momanyi, a Mill City Farmers Market farmer and grant recipient, will be speaking at the upcoming Harvest Social about the impact the grants have had on his farm.

In 2016, Moses and his wife Lonah received a grant to implement an irrigation system on their new, 20-acre certified organic vegetable farm in Cambridge. The irrigation allowed them to increase the quantity and quality of produce they bring to market every Saturday.

A few months later, they also applied for a hardship grant for crop loss due to flooding, ironically. Heavy rains destroyed over $10,000 worth of crops in their fields.

While Moses and many other farmers have crop insurance for such events, it rarely covers the full value of the crop. Support from our generous market community makes a huge difference to farms and families in times like these.

You can support the Mill City Farmers Market’s grant program and charitable fund by attending the Harvest Social benefit Sept. 10 in the historic Mill City Museum train shed. Purchase your tickets and learn more at

For more information and a summary of past Mill City Farmers Market Organic Field Grant awardees, visit


Watermelon gazpacho

Recipe from Mill City Farmers Market 2016 Harvest Social


10 cups pureed watermelon, about 1 medium watermelon, rind and seeds removed

2 stalks lemongrass, roughly chopped

3 cups water

1 cup mirin

4 Tablespoons minced ginger

2 Tablespoons sesame oil

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon Tabasco

1 cup chopped mint


Simmer the lemongrass in the water for 20 minutes.

Puree in a blender for 2 minutes, and then strain. Add the lemongrass liquid to the watermelon puree.

Rinse the blender and puree the ginger with the mirin.

Add to the mixture directly to the watermelon, and stir in remaining ingredients.

Chill for at least 6 hours.

Check for seasoning just before serving, and garnish with the chopped mint.