Category: Outdoor Market

Cash, Credit…or Tokens?

Paper or plastic? Nope, I’m not talking about the type of bag you’d like for your groceries. I am taking about the paper or plastic in your wallet. One more the most commonly asked questions at the market is, “How do I pay?”

All vendors at the Farmers Market accept cash, some accept credit cards, and they all accept our unique market currency, wooden tokens. If you forgot to bring your cash or you need a little more money to spend at the market, you can visit our Farmers Market Cashier, Sue, at Market Info and swipe your debit or credit card to purchase tokens that work just like cash in the market.

Each token comes in five-dollar increments and there is a twenty-dollar minimum to swipe your card (Don’t worry, there are no fees!). The tokens never expire, so if you do not use them all in one visit, bring them back with you the next time you shop the market. Pro tip: I like to keep them in my wallet’s coin purse. They fit perfectly and never get lost in a pocket or washing machine!

Once you’ve purchased your tokens, you can spend them just like cash in the market. For example, if you are using one of the five-dollar tokens to purchase a three-dollar item from a vendor, you will receive two-dollars cash back for your transaction.

You can visit our team at the Market Info booth to purchase tokens. You can find us about halfway up the north side of the market, just past the entrance. See you Thursday!

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August at the Farmers Market: What’s in Season?

August 2020

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.
  • basil
  • beans (green, yellow, purple,speckled, more!)
  • beets (golden and red)
  • bitter melon
  • blueberries
  • broccoli
  • cabbage (regular, napa)
  • cantaloupe and muskmelons
  • carrots (orange, red, white, purple)
  • cauliflower (white, purple, yellow)
  • chard
  • cherry tomatoes–many varieties
  • cilantro
  • cucumbers (pickling slicing, and specialty)
  • dill
  • eggplant (MANY varieties)
  • garlic
  • greens
  • ground cherries
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • microgreens
  • mint
  • mushrooms
  • 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)
  • radishes
  • raspberries
  • sweet corn
  • tomatoes (slicing, sauce, heirloom varieties)
  • watermelon (yellow, red, orange, many sizes–seeded and seedless)
  • zucchini

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Masks at the Market

It’s a joy to provide fresh, healthy food for the community, and food safety has always been a top priority for market operations.  COVID-19 has caused dramatic changes in the market, pushing us to think about infectious disease and adopt new strategies to operate safely during the pandemic.  It has been a season unlike any other, and we are truly grateful to have a community partner in Maple Grove Hospital.

Maple Grove Hospital is the market’s Presenting “Safe at the Market” sponsor. As part of our shared commitment to your health, we’ll be sharing the hospital’s information and resources related to COVID-19 and how market shoppers can remain safe while purchasing fresh food.  This week’s timely topic is masks—how, when, and where to wear them, how they help to prevent the spread of disease, and how to maximize their effectiveness. Please enjoy this easy-to-understand overview from North Memorial Health.

Masks or face shields are strongly recommended for all market participants and are one of many strategies we’ve adopted to keep you safe and confident about shopping your “outdoor grocery store.”  Handwash stations and hand sanitizer are available at each end of the market. We’ve designed our site to keep a constant six-foot distance between vendors and shoppers.

Watch for a new market mascot in the near future…a six-foot llama cut-out provided by Maple Grove Hospital to give you a real-life representation of what six feet really is. Get your cameras ready! Additionally, we have one-way traffic designed to help you maintain distance from fellow customers. The market has a maximum occupancy of 250 customers at any one time.

Wearing a mask or face shield is one way that you can mitigate risk, allowing the market—and your essential errands and activities–to continue safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please take a moment to review our COVID-19 plan at www.maplegrovefarmersmarket.com. We hope that the market continues to be a source of joy, nutrition, and connection through this year and into the future.

2020 Presenting Sponsor: Safe at the Market

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Connecting over Food

As a new homeowner, quarantine has been a great time to work on projects around the house. The first few weeks were spent spring cleaning and decluttering the inside, but as the weather has warmed, my projects have moved to the exterior of the house.

After many YouTube videos, Internet searches, and a few calls to my Mom, I successfully landscaped around the house and garage. While seeing my finished project gave me lots of satisfaction (and much cleaner hands!), I enjoyed the process of planting and landscaping. There is something so rewarding about working in the sun, breaking a sweat, and seeing a little progress every day.

One moment that stands out from my project actually has nothing to do with landscaping. While working in the yard, I heard a soft mutter over the fence. Our sweet neighbor was stopping by to say hello.  He and his wife are both retired and we haven’t seen them much during quarantine. We chatted briefly about house projects, gardening, and life during quarantine.

Right before we wrapped the conversation, our neighbor mentioned that it might be fun to get together for a meal after quarantine was over. Then he suggested that instead of waiting for quarantine to end, we could pack our own meals and bring our families together – at a safe 6 ft. distance – across the fence between our yards.

While we haven’t put a date on the calendar for our fence picnic yet, our conversation made me think about the role that food and gathering over meals plays in connecting with others, even during quarantine. Thinking back to family gatherings, people always seemed to congregate around food – whether that meant standing around appetizers at the kitchen island or a bowl of chips and salsa at the table. I come from large Italian family, so food is always at the center of every get together. There is always a large spread of food, way too many leftovers, and it wasn’t until I met my fiancé that I learned that not all family gatherings take place in the kitchen!  

As I continued to think about experiences gathering over food, I thought a lot about what that means for the farmers market during this time. Although the market isn’t a place where we can gather and linger right now, there is still so much beauty in being able to buy food direct from the growers and makers.  Those folks across the table from you are the same ones who planted a seed, nurtured it, and grew it into the bountiful harvest that sits on your table. These are the people who have spent countless hours testing that recipe to bake a delicious treat that you can take home and share with your family.

As you shop, I encourage you to get to know your vendors – ask them questions about their products, themselves, and their business. They truly are a great resource and have so much knowledge about food. Even in this time of social distancing, a smile, a thank you, and a brief conversation while you purchase from your local growers and makers can be the building blocks of a new connection and friendship.

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Welcome to your Pandemic Farmers Market!

First off—please know that our farmers market team is thinking of you, our dear community, and sending wishes for calm and health.  These are uncertain and troubling times but we hope you are tucked in at home and finding some enjoyment in the great gift of time we’ve all been given.  We hope you’re cooking, walking, reading, planning a garden, and focusing on strategies to boost your health.

Our individual and communal lives have jumped the track into new patterns so very quickly, and we all expect continued changes on the horizon.  One thing that remains constant is that we all need to eat! Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture have been clear that farmers markets are essential services, similar to grocery stores and pharmacies, and can continue to operate as a source good, nutrient-dense food for the community.  We’re tracking best practices from markets here in Minnesota and across the country and will work with Hennepin County Environmental Health to host socially distant, nutritionally proximate markets.

We have tested this “new way to farmers market” with small outdoor markets on April 16 and April 30.   So far, so good! Warmest thanks to those of you who have shopped the market –you’re sustaining local farmers and food makers.

The market will be open each Thursday from 3-7 p.m., beginning May 14.  We expect it to feel similar to AND different from our regular operations. Here are the measures we’re taking to keep our customers, vendors, and staff safe.

  1. Vendor booths will be spread apart to ensure plenty of room for shoppers to spread out.
  2. Expect one-way food traffic in the market. It’s like a big, colorful, yummy merry-go-round.
  3. Handwash stations will be available in multiple locations throughout the market. Please use them like crazy!
  4. Entry to the market may be metered if we have a large customer turnout. In that case, we’ll be grateful for your patience as we allow one customer in when another leaves.
  5. Forms of payment have not changed. You may still use cash at each vendor booth. Many also accept credit and debit cards. If you need more purchasing power, please visit Market Info to buy tokens, which operate just like cash throughout the market.  SNAP and EBT are also welcomed! Use your nutrition support card to buy tokens at Market Info and receive a dollar-for-dollar match up to $10 each week.
  6. We have temporarily suspended all “extras.” There will be no Power of Produce Kids’ Club, no Frequent Shopper Rewards, and no live music.  Don’t worry. They’ll all come back when the coast is clear.

Here’s what you can do to make the market a safer place:

  1. Stay home if you are not feeling well of if anyone in your family is ill.
  2. Arrive a little later. The market is busiest from 3-5 p.m. If you prefer a less-congested market experience, or if you would like to bring the whole family, please plan to shop after 5:00 p.m.
  3. Wash your hands when you enter and exit.
  4. Shop with your eyes! Point to your selections and allow the vendor to handle products.
  5. Please considering pre-ordering. Our vendors have rolled out a number of options for prepayment and contactless pickup at market. Pre-ordering is entirely optional but will help you move through the market faster.
  6. Designate one shopper from your household and send that one person to the market.  This will cut down on crowding. Pro tip: Be sure to let your family request their favorite market goodies! 
  7. Offer to shop for a neighbor!

In normal times, the market has a core mission with three parts:  Providing a profitable marketplace for small-scale local farmers and food makers; providing the highest-quality healthy foods to area residents; and serving as a positive gathering place for the community. In these crazy times you can help us fulfill the first two, while we distance ourselves from the third. We love you, but–get in, get your goodies, and go home! This strategy will help us continue to host markets through the COVID-19 restrictions and ensure that our farmers make enough money to come back in future market years.

We’re so fortunate to have the advice and guidance of Hennepin County Environmental Health and Maple Grove Public Safety as we plan these events.  We’re also following the example of markets across the country. We invite you to learn more by signing up for our e-newsletter and following the market on Facebook and Instagram.  Detailed plans will also be posted on www.maplegrovefarmersmarket.com

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