Earlier this week I attended an Extension training for farmers market managers in the twin cities. One of the other “hats” I wear is as president of the Lakes Area Farmers Market in Detroit Lakes, which, since we’re an all-volunteer market, makes me the market manager by default. We were there to learn how to conduct good market surveys, but I really liked talking to others and learning about their markets.
I learned that we all have the same issues, but each market is really different. Some of this comes from the types of vendors or the organization, but, really, the people give a market its personality. We were on-site of the Midtown Farmers Market on Lake Street, which really had an urban feel. Again, this personality sprung the neighborhood: Somali, Latinos, tattooed twenty-somethings, crunchy yuppie-types all mingling together. You also saw folks coming to the market by bike or light rail instead of by car. The scene was quite a bit different from our mix of lakes people, tourists, and small-town families down by the pavilion. But what’s incredible is that Midtown is quite a bit different from Mill City Market nestled amongst all those high-priced condos just a few miles away in downtown or the Kingston Market near all those cool Uptown hipsters at the other end of Lake Street.
As a vendor I often think of a farmers market as just a place people go to get food, but, really folks go there just as much for the people as the produce. If you just want a cheap tomato, go to the supermarket. But, if you want to banter with the vendors about the weather, run into some of your neighbors, and do some serious people-watching, then go to your local farmers market. It’s a place you can really celebrate your neighborhood each week.
IN THE BOX:
These are a variety called Cherokee Purple. They are totally ugly, but don’t let looks fool you, these have great taste. Best for fresh eating…don’t cook with them.
These are our main crop tomatoes called Red Sun.
A few leeks
Check out the recipe below. To clean, cut lengthwise and peel back the leaves and wash.
A few onions
The yellow type is a sweet onion called Alisa Craig and the red is called Red Bull.
A Bunch of Carrots
A white variety called Silver King. First time I’ve grown it…nice size ears.
Summer Squash Mix
Red Norland Potatoes
Potato Leek Soup
4 T unsalted butter
1 large or 2 medium sliced leeks, white part only
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T chopped parsley, optional
Clean and thinly slice leeks. Melt butter in large, heavy soup pot; add leeks and sauté slowly until glassy-do not brown. Add chicken broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until potatoes are soft, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Mash or puree. Add cream, milk, salt and pepper, and parsley. Reheat and serve-do no boil. Makes 8 servings.
Reprinted from The St. Paul Farmers Market Produce Cookbook, 1999.