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Farmers market season underway

Glewwe's Castle Brewery sells Mom and Pop soda pop brewed and bottled in Spring Lake Township. Laurel Glewwe welcomes all to try the sweet beverages at Farmington Farmers Market booth. Photo by Kara Hildreth / contributor1 / 2
Jane Dough Bakery sold varieties of homemade cookies and scratch breads at Farmington Farmers Market held each Thursday afternoon at Dakota County Fairgrounds. Photo by Kara Hildreth / contributor2 / 2

Looking to add a little rainbow to your plate or palette?

Mark your calendars and aim to visit your weekly farmers markets and select the best fresh produce to cook up a storm with veggies harvested daily. Snatch up some homemade goods baked in local ovens or learn about fresh herbs and seasonal spring veggies you can cook in new ways.

Rosemount umbrella market

David Kotsonas, market manager of nearly 20 suburban markets under St. Paul Farmers Market umbrella, said the Rosemount Farmers Market usually boasts 35 booths each year.

"I think is it important that all the produce grown comes from within 50 miles of St. Paul, and so all our growers grow within the region," Kotsonas said.

Strawberries, the first locally grown berries of the season, are being harvested across Minnesota gardens and are being sold now.

"They are beautiful, delicious and luscious but the supply is still somewhat limited so if you want them, you will have to get to the market early," Kotsonas said.

"Also, expect to find beautiful, locally-grown produce like kale, kohlrabi, spinach, lettuce, radishes, rhubarb, asparagus, spring onions and herbs," added Kotsonas, who is new to managing the St. Paul Farmers Markets after running the Rochester Farmers Market for six years.

"You can also find more humanely raised meats, dairy, eggs, baked good, jams, jellies, honey, sauces, and plants for your young garden, in addition to hanging baskets and other specialty products from independent growers and producers," Kotsonas said.

Market trends

Trending right now are items considered to be general value products, Kotsonas said.

"This trend means that is where the demand and growth in farmers markets is in general, like with sauces and different ingredients and products that offer more than what is grown and what can be produced," Kotsonas said.

"We have the Swiss chard in the different bright colors, beef pork and eggs that have the brighter yolks and the flavor is better," he added.

Local farmers and growers use temporary greenhouses out of plastic sheeting to extend the growing season on either side of the spring and fall growing seasons in Minnesota.

Besides veggie lovers, markets customers can check out the weekly markets in Farmington and Rosemount to choose homemade baked goods, jams and jellies and locally-produced honey for their homemade bread and breakfast toast.

New Farmington location

For years, the Farmington Farmers Market and vendors set up tables outside City Hall in downtown Farmington and the operation was managed by the city of Farmington.

But for the second growing season, the Farmington Farmers Market is setting new roots at the fairgrounds by people who know farming best, the Dakota County Agricultural Society.

Mark Henry, a director with Dakota County Fair Board, said part of the Ag Society's mission statement is to promote local agriculture. So, running the local farmers market fits seamlessly into that statement to support local farmers.

The new fairground location boasts more space to bloom where it is planted. The fairgrounds offers endless, free parking with a shaded, lush tree canopy for both vendors and guests.

Customers can meander around and check out the latest veggies or strike up a conversation with local farmers. You can learn more about new veggie varieties and find out why local growers take pride to sell their harvested goods or cottage industry goods to local neighborhood markets in Rosemount and Farmington.

Currently, 17 vendors signed contracts to sell farm fresh produce and or locally produced goods each Thursday afternoon in Farmington, Henry said. Plans are underway to feature a local or area business each week.

In the future, the Farmington Farmers Market may offer mobile food trucks or music that may increase foot traffic and attract more families to come out each week and stay awhile for a bite to eat and place to meet up with neighbors.

"We are always trying to find other vendors and we have several of our vendors who attend three or four of our farmers' markets," Henry said.

Farmington's famous farmer Jeff Adelmann, known locally as the Herb Man, returns to sell produce and vegetable and flowering plants, as well as colorful hanging baskets.

"We want to promote the farmers in our area, and we think the farmers markets are a great thing, and it you see the amount of produce being grown in the area, it is unbelievable because we have acreages all over that grow fresh vegetables," Henry said.

If you go:

The Farmington Farmers Market is from 2:30-6:30 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 12 at the Dakota County Fairgrounds, 4008 220th St. W., off Ash Street.

The Rosemount Farmers Market, a satellite of St. Paul Farmers Market, is from 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays through September at the Rosemount Community Center parking lot, 13885 S. Robert Trail.