Tag Archives: Farmer’s Markets

National Farmers Market Week — Fresh veggies, friendly farmers, & something for the philatelist!

As we all know, everything’s coming in a little late this year – including the news that this very week, August 3-9, 2014 is National Farmers Market Week!   Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack thus declared the fifteenth annual observation in an official proclamation. The USDA is quick to remind us that there are “Thousands of Reasons to Celebrate National Farmers Market Week” — but we already knew that…. [http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/08/04/thousands-of-reasons-to-celebrate-national-farmers-market-week/]

Farmers market development “is a cornerstone of the USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative” which coordinates the USDA’s policy, resources, and outreach efforts related to local and regional food systems, one of the pillars of USDA’s commitment to rural economic development.

To celebrate National Farmers Market Week the U.S. Post Office has issued four Forever postage stamps, each depicting a chapter of the farmers market story – the first stamp offers an array of fresh breads, artisan cheese, eggs and cookies; a second stamp features veggies and fruits of every persuasion; the third stamp sports a lush array of fresh cut flowers; the fourth depicts live plants, herbs, colorful fruits and flowers. All of the items bear handwritten labels that identify the product and its price. The stamps are designed by Greg Breeding with illustrations by Robin Moline.

For the most part Minnesotans know their farmers market – site, hours, specialties, friendly growers, their ethnicity and their progeny! Farmers markets have become the town square of many towns and urban neighborhoods. There are countless guides to the possibilities! Each market sports its own personality, produce and promoters – try asking a random group about their favorite farmers market – observe the lively display of local farmers market chauvinism!

At great risk of missing the reader’s favorite, here is just a small starter sampler of the readily accessible guides to all that friendly freshness!

http://mfma.org – website of the Minnesota Farmers Market Association

http://www.mdastate.mn.us/food/ – Minnesota Department of Agriculture publication

http://www.stpaulfarmersmarket.com – guide to the St. Paul Farmers’ Market

http://www.mplsfarmersmarket.com/FreshNews/ – guide to the Minneapolis Farmers Market


There are scores of other guides, organized by every conceivable categorical possibility.   Surf the Net to sample the season’s harvest!

 Whether you’re a farmer, a merchant

or a happy and healthy customer


Happy National Farmers Market Week

August 3-0, 2014



“A Place at the Table of Life” – How Jan Pilarski Describes Green Bridge Growers


Sometimes when I listen to The Splendid Table (which I do regularly) I am overwhelmed by the gustatory sophistication, the plethora of herbs and spices of which callers speak knowingly, the time and energy serious cooks spend on their art. Though mortified by my pedestrian palate, I listen with envy and admiration.

Last week I set aside my inhibitions and turned up the volume as Lynne Rossetto Kasper and her worthy crew held me spellbound with the riveting story of Green Bridge Growers (http://www.greenbridgegrowers.org, a vibrant Indiana farming initiative that mixes fresh produce and aquaponics with social justice and meaningful work for adults with autism.  (http://www.splendidtable.org/story/green-bridge-growers-growing-organic-produce-employing-young-adults-with-autism) The cross pollinization took root in my imagination.  I needed to know more about the founders, Chris Tidmarsh and his mother, Jan Pilarski.

At its core the mission of Green Bridge Growers is to leverage new jobs for those with autism by employing aquaponics to grow vegetables close to consumers, year-round, and at a profit.  Though palate-impaired I recognize a recipe for a win-win enterprise.

The robust Green Bridge Growers website (fed my interest in the produce and the purpose of this dynamic operation.  In terms of growing practices, the venture uses organic growing methods and materials, including aquaponics, to operate year round at the farm near South Bend, Indiana.  “Within this system, fish and plants grow in harmony, producing faster growing rates and much less waste.”

In financial terms, the customer base for GBG includes “high-end restaurants and grocery stores” and farmers’ markers, with talks underway to establish a relationship with Notre Dame University Food Services.

From the perspective of social mission, the role of GBG is described thus by co-owner Jan Pilarski, mother of Chris Tidmarsh:  “to create jobs that harness the amazing skills of young adults with autism.  We grow local, organic vegetables for our community, and those who buy from us help to create jobs and change lives.”

As is often the case, it was personal experience that sparked the idea that has become a prosperous and socially conscious business.  Jan Pilarski tells the story of  her son Chris, a high functioning autistic college graduate who couldn’t deal with the social challenges of a traditional job.  When he returned home, jobless, his mother recalls that “it was food that slowly brought us back to life.”  Chris had a passion for fresh, healthy, local food.  The family looked around to learn, among other things,  how other sustainable ventures had taught practical farming skills to inner city youth, to veterans, and to others marginalized in the work economy, to people who excel at the essential routines successful farming demands.

GBG is story of creative and socially responsible thinking.    Today sustainable locavore is hot, farm-to-market is the rage, sustainable agriculture ventures are establishing deep roots and reaping results throughout Minnesota and the Twin Cities.  What this story adds is the social goal of engaging a fresh and eager crop of growers in the process of sharing the labor and reaping the rewards.  It takes work, patience, holistic thinking and a social commitment.   The harvest is rich is countless ways.

As for GBG, they’re growing as fast as their crops.  There was a great article about the project in The Atlantic a few months ago.  (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/12/an-organic-greenhouse-run-by-farmers-with-autism/282145/gbg).  Chris and Jan star in an informative video they produced as part of a successful crowd-sourced campaign that will allow them to expand their equipment, their market and their employee base.

Needless to say, GBG excels at tweeting the latest news, freshest produce and wisest quotes – The quote from Friday, May 30, is from Mark Twain who wrote:

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.  The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting the first one.”  No surprise that Chris Tidmarsh and Jan Pilarski have declared this the mantra of Green Bridge Growers.

Contact information for GBG:  Innovation Park Notre Dame, 1400 East Angela Blvd, South Bend, IN 46617 574 310 8190, greenbridgegrowers@gmail.com




Farmer’s Markets Sprout

Farmer’s Markets are sprouting (to coin a phrase) on every church, parking, and vacant lot, it seems.  It’s great.  What I’m learning in my poking around is about the unique nature of many of these sites.  Thanks to Twin Cities Daily Planet shared penchant for poking around, I’ve had a chance to dig a bit deeper into just a couple – so far.

The Village Farmer’s Market, opening July 12 in my community, is the fulfillment of one woman’s dream.  Wendy Huebner is the dreamer who now has the whole community abuzz.  The VFM will feature a generous array of locally produced vegetables and fruit along with a rich assortment of entertainment/educational programs that range from accordions to jugglers to a talk about the history of cookbooks, with emphasis on delicacies created from locally grown produce.  Details on TCDP.

Another community building market is the fulfillment of Toua Xiong’s dream.  The Hmongtown Marketplace in St. Paul’s Frogtown is the hub of the Hmong community.  The nine-acre site features locally grown produce, much of which is new to oldtime Minnesotans.  The Market also features several restaurants and foodstands, acres of purchasable items ranging from clothing to videos to bubble blowing gear.  Again, details on TCDP.

The summer isn’t long enough to poke around all of the market opportunities, but I’ve got a good start on a most delightful and delicious poke!