Category: General News
The scene: early spring 2021, an office in Maple Grove
Farmers market organizers have responded to dozens of vendor inquiries. We’ve reviewed paperwork and created site plans. Public health restrictions are still in place, but officials are starting to sound more optimistic. The Power of Produce kids’ program has been on pause for a full year and we would love to bring it back. But–everything is uncertain and staffing is short. How to proceed?
Enter Angels, stage right
Help arrives in the form of Eileen Baker and her team from the Osseo School District’s Community-Based Vocational Assessment and Training Program. Eileen, along with her colleagues and students, cheerfully loaded up all of our bulky supplies. They prepared 1,600 Power of Produce bags for distribution at market. This was an enormous task that we couldn’t have completed on our own. We are so grateful!
Eileen describes the program in this way:
“The Community-Based Vocational Assessment and Training (CBVAT) program is a part of the Osseo Area School District. We serve students from Maple Grove, Osseo, and Park Center high schools.
Students are bussed during the school day to CBVAT where they learn vocational and employability skills. The goal for our students is to have successful competitive integrated long-term employment in a job that best suits their strengths, aptitudes, and interests.
While at the CBVAT site, students engage in hands-on work tasks for local charities including the Maple Grove Farmers Market, Special Olympics, HCMC, Junior Achievement, Second Stork, and Help at Your Door. They also do paid work for local vendors.
Once students have gained the necessary employment skills for paid or volunteer work in the community, a work coordinator from CBVAT will locate jobs or volunteer experiences in the community that will further challenge the students. Job trainers from CBVAT support students as they learn their specific job tasks and get to know their co-workers, supervisors, and interact with customers.”
Interested in collaborating with CBVAT? Reach out to Eileen Baker at BakerE@District279.org. Please tell her the Maple Grove Farmers Market sent you!Read More
It’s Earth Day 2021. Spring! Finally!
Springtime is a new season for growing and for farmers markets. This year, it’s a time of readjusting/re-connecting in the wake of the pandemic and the resolution of the Chauvin trial. It’s a season of continued grief and uncertainty as we mourn the killing of Daunte Wright. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling…stretched.
Where to start? How to care for the bodies, families, and livelihoods of our community in the midst of uncertainty? How to prioritize soil health and clean air and water when our attention is called to healing our interpersonal relationships? And while we’re at it, what the heck is for dinner tonight?
I think it’s helpful to keep that question mark at the end of every sentence. Curiosity gives us room to grow and see the many facets of each of our decisions. For me, the farmers market is a great place to stay curious AND find some of the answers to my big and small questions.
When you shop the market, you’re in close proximity (but not too close, of course–six feet should do it) with neighbors from many backgrounds, races, and walks of life. It’s a great way to learn about culinary traditions that are different from your own. It’s an even better way–in these distanced, polarized times–to form bonds of friendship in a neutral environment. It’s good for body and soul to share a greeting and a laugh with farmers market friends once each week.
When you shop the market, you’re purchasing food from people who are tending to our soil, air and water right here, on a small scale. You also support small-scale food entrepreneurs who in turn purchase supplies and business support services locally.
When you stay curious at the market, one new flavor can gradually lead to healthy lifestyle changes. It’s fun to eat more veggies when you can report back to the farmer that you prepared and loved those golden beets or SweeTango apples or purple carrots.
Last but not least for this working parent, the market often gives me answers about what on Earth to cook for dinner. Happy Earth Day. We’re so excited to welcome you back to the Maple Grove Farmers Market on Thursday May 13 from 3-7. We’ll be back at our home base–the Maple Grove Community Center, 12951 Weaver Lake Road, Maple Grove MN, 55369, North America, Planet Earth.
~Kirsten Bansen Weigle, Market ManagerRead More
Early in the year, our market season seems to stretch out forever—and then all of a sudden it’s nearly complete. 24 markets down, only two to go! Thanks for your patience and steadfastness as we’ve navigated all of the “usual” uncertainties of the season (like growing conditions and market day weather) and the UNUSUAL uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our vendors are reporting that sales in 2020 exceeded their expectations—which means that you turned a truly sour “lemon” situation into lovely lemonade for many small farms and food makers.
Very soon, we’ll share detailed information about our plans to host November and December indoor markets at the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes. This fall, the market is moving to the large retail space that formerly housed Forever 21. We’re lining up vendors and carefully planning our COVID-19 safety measures for these indoor events…stay tuned!
As we contemplate indoor markets and the long winter ahead, safety and health are top of mind. As it happens, safety and health are ALWAYS top of mind at Maple Grove Hospital, the market’s presenting “Safer at the Market” sponsor for 2020. Maple Grove Hospital and North Memorial Health have rolled out a healthy checklist of strategies for this unique time. From flu shots to virtual doctor visits and beyond, this list will give you additional tools to navigate fall and winter.
Please join us in thanking Maple Grove Hospital for its ongoing care of the community. Their proactive sponsorship of the farmers market helps us to keep vendor fees reasonable and supports many of the ways we communicate with you.Read More
We always want you to feel welcome and comfortable when shopping the market. We have recently heard questions and concerns from shoppers who wonder how the market is working at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a short list of timely Frequently Asked Questions to help you plan your visit.
Q: Does the market have special hours reserved for seniors and those with health concerns in light of COVID-19?
A: Early in the season, we asked shoppers to reserve 3:00-3:30 for our senior guests. We are no longer doing so. This isn’t out of disrespect or lack of care for those of you who are 55+ or immune-compromised. We simply don’t have the ability hold back the large number of shoppers who arrive between 2:45 and 3:30. We appreciate that YOU are reading this Q and A, but many shoppers just stop by when they see the signs around town. We don’t have enough space or staff to make them line up and wait until 3:30 without creating a traffic hazard. The market is much quieter between 5 and 7 and selection is still very good. If you like a less crowded atmosphere, please attend later!
Q: Are masks required?
A: Per MN Executive Order 20-81, all workers in the market are required to wear masks unless they fall into a medical exemption category. If a vendor is not wearing a mask, you can assume that they are exempt and that market management is aware of the fact. Customers are strongly encouraged to wear masks but it is not a requirement under current state or city laws. As such, we cannot require shoppers to wear them.
Q: When does the market open?
A: Customers are welcome to enter the market after 2:40 but sales do not begin until 3:00, when we sound an opening horn. NOTE: We routinely sound the horn 3-5 minutes early.
Q: Are children allowed in the market?
A: The market has always been a very family-friendly place and we cherish kids of all ages. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are grateful to families who can send just one or two people to do the family shopping for the week. This helps us to stay under our 250-person maximum customer capacity. However, we are not denying admission to families with children. We ask that families keep their children close by and move through the market as a unit.
We know that these times are unsettling and that shopping can be nerve-wracking. We want you to have all the information you need to plan your trip. Please visit our web site at www.maplegrovefarmersmarket.com for a complete and up-to-date list of our COVID-19 response strategies. Note that we are working carefully with state and city governments and Hennepin County Health Inspectors to comply with all relevant laws.
We also respectfully request your patience and kindness as we’re doing our best to stay open for our growers, food makers, and the community. I hope you will reach out to me directly at market or between markets to express your concerns. Remember, many of the people stationed at the market entrance are volunteers and hourly staff members working to serve you.
Thank you! Eat well this weekend!
Kirsten Bansen Weigle
PS–Have you noticed the beautiful chalk art by our volunteer Ruby? Isn’t she talented?Read More
These pandemic days are the slowest fast-moving days–or maybe the fastest slow-moving weeks–I have ever experienced. Do you feel the same? There is time to savor moments and flavors and even the long-forgotten sensation of boredom. But it’s already August? What???
Growing conditions have been ideal for warm-season crops this year. Air temperatures have been above average, both in the daytime and nighttime. As a result we’re moving into high season for market produce even earlier than usual.
The key to a continual succession of vegetables is timed plantings of the same crop at intervals throughout the spring and summer. For example, the earliest, fastest-maturing corn varieties have already been harvested. Our growers are now harvesting a second planting of sweet corn for your table. They are experts–we all benefit from their hard work.
August is a great time to preserve the harvest, whether on a small scale (perhaps a few jars of blueberry jam) or to fill a winter pantry (tomatoes, cucumbers, and more are available in bulk quantities. Market vendors are happy to reserve large orders for you to pick up on market day.) It’s a great idea to assemble your supplies BEFORE you purchase the produce you intend to freeze, can, dehydrate or jam. Food preservation supplies like freezer bags, jar lids, and pectin can be a little hard to find.
Want to preserve the good feeling of the market along with the good flavors? After the canning or freezing is done, when you’re writing on your jar lid or label, include the vendor’s name. For example: “Cherry tomato sauce, Yang family, 8-1-2020.” Doing so helps me pause to mentally thank the folks who grew and harvested my food, even in the cold of January. Everything tastes better when seasoned with gratitude.
Here is a list of the produce you can expect to find in the market as the month progresses. We can’t possibly list everything. New varieties will appear every single week in August, so be sure to keep an eye out for that hotter pepper or new variety of muskmelon. Savor. Enjoy.
- apples arrive mid- to late August. Early varieties include State Fair, Beacon, First Kiss, SweeTango, and crabapples.
- beans (green, yellow, purple,speckled, more!)
- beets (golden and red)
- bitter melon
- cabbage (regular, napa)
- cantaloupe and muskmelons
- carrots (orange, red, white, purple)
- cauliflower (white, purple, yellow)
- cherry tomatoes–many varieties
- cucumbers (pickling slicing, and specialty)
- eggplant (MANY varieties)
- ground cherries
- Potatoes–red, yellow, white, purple; fingerling; russet potatoes by late August
- onions (green onions, as well as yellow, white and red)
- pattypan and other summer squash varieties
- peppers (new varieties added every week in August)
- sweet corn
- tomatoes (slicing, sauce, heirloom varieties)
- watermelon (yellow, red, orange, many sizes–seeded and seedless)