So, what should we do for an encore?
Last year at this time, Kingfield Farmers Market board members were a bit nervous. We were heading into our first season as an independent organization, with all the uncertainty about how we would really pull this off, untethered from our generous benefactors at the Kingfield Neighborhood Association.
Well, any of you who wandered over to 4310 Nicollet Avenue last summer and fall know how it turned out: wonderful.
Each Sunday, we had 30 vendors per week — our biggest group of local farmers ever. Chef Shack became a beloved and savory gathering spot. Kids rocked out in Twin Town’s “musical petting zoo,” chefs simmered in our monthly cooking demos, and another year of bake-offs stuffed everyone’s tummies.
And, we estimate, 1,200 of you came each week to browse the offerings. That was by far our biggest crowd number, and people came from all over — Tangletown, East Harriet, Lynnhurst, Lyndale, CARAG and east of the highway. We are definitely not just a Kingfield market any more.
Thanks to you, the Southwest Journal, and the generous support of Ace-Nicollet Hardware, Linden Hills Co-op and France 44 Wine, Beer and Spirits, KFNA and dozens of hard-working volunteers, we ended the year in the black. That allows us to say we’re here to stay, and add things that make the market (opening Sunday, May 23) even better.
First, we needed to make sure we kept what was great. Chef Shack is back, and so are our Hmong vendors with their epic vegetables, amazing herbs and eye-popping floral bouquets. Tiny Planet and Swede Lake will be back with their organic veggies, including farm-fresh garlic, sugary carrots, and incredible lettuces. Once again, we’ll have Love Tree’s cheeses, Svihel’s berries, Denny’s apples, and Jerry’s homemade spaghetti sauces, among many others. Sonny’s Crema Cafe will be the gelato vendor.
Sadly, our meat vendor moved to Ohio this year, but we quickly found a wonderful replacement: Braucher’s SunShine Harvest Farm from Webster, Minn. In addition to beef and chicken, we’ll have something new: lamb! They’ll also bring us farm-fresh eggs and, we hope, dairy.
Later in the season, we’ll add another fruit vendor who promises pears, apples and other tree-ripened delights we haven’t had at the market before. Bottom line: we think you can do most of your weekly grocery shopping at the market.
The biggest change? More dining options so you can have breakfast, brunch or lunch with your neighbors. In addition to Chef Shack and Akshay-Patram’s Indian food, we’re adding two new prepared-food vendors: one who sells falafel and another who sells gelato. (Summer heat just got easier to handle.) We’ll be adding tables and chairs — something we definitely needed more of last year — to accommodate.
We’ll also have an improved set-up for cooking demonstrations, which last year featured chefs from places such as The Craftsman and Heidi’s. And in addition to our berry, apple, pumpkin and rhubarb bake-off, we’re doing our part to reduce the supply of summer’s most promiscuous vegetable by adding a zucchini bake-off!
Last year wouldn’t have been so amazing without the tremendous support of the community. Each May, volunteers hand-deliver season-opening postcards to Kingfield. This spring, when we asked for lit-droppers, we not only heard from Kingfielders but folks in Lyndale, East Harriet, Lynnhurst and east of 35W, too.
Their efforts allowed us to get our postcards to more of Southwest, which means more customers for our hard-working vendors, more neighbors for you to hang out with and more folks benefiting from the taste, quality and spirit of local food. If you want to learn more, check out our website at kingfieldfarmersmarket.org. We’ll be upgrading that this year, too!
Kingfield Farmers Market
The market runs every Sunday through October, 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m. at 43rd & Nicollet. It features locally grown food, music and more. For more information, visit kingfieldfarmersmarket.org.