Building more than a farmers market

We’re in the peak farmers market season now, with tomatoes and peppers rolling in, corn and cukes weighing down shopping bags. The fresh flowers are like garden borders around the vendor tents, and the canners eagerly eye the bounty with their eyes toward winter’s scarcity. The ice cream must be licked quickly, lest the drips hit the sidewalk instead of your tongue, and the music lingers in the humid air just a few delicious nanoseconds longer.

It’s a beautiful time all around, yet I can’t help but watch the booths where nothing delectable — at least, nothing material — is sold. When we became an independent group a year and a half ago, we struck a deal with our founding organization, the Kingfield Neighborhood Association, to give them a market table in perpetuity.

Each week, neighborhood staff and volunteers show up to talk about the business of building a better neighborhood, not just on Sundays but every day, and not just with what fits in a shopping bag, but what fits in your life.

Last year, KFNA was busy raising money for bike cops — each week, a few more sections between wheel spokes were colored in on the white poster board, and by the end of the season, some thick-calved constable had a nice ride to patrol the neighborhood as we walk it and ride it. As we know, you get a better feel for things when your odometer is your lungs instead of a gauge.

This year is the Year of the Dog. As in, dog park. Those of you with pooches may be aware that there’s no off-leash park south of Lake Street. Considering the masses of mutts on every block these days, this means man’s best friend is more like persona non grata (canis non grata?) — civically, anyway.

A group of dogged (couldn’t resist) volunteers is trying to make the park not just a reality, but a neighborhood amenity. After years of false starts, there is serious momentum for a section spreading from the 40th & Nicollet corner of Martin Luther King Park. The newly constituted park board has turned from roadblock to facilitator, and the neighborhood association staff is doing the hard, necessary work of getting all the stakeholders (not just leash-holders) involved.

This is where the market comes in. The KFNA staff and volunteers are at their table every week, puppy-dog eager to explain the proposed layout, the glorious benefits and yes, the potential hurdles. It’s an all-comers thing, where a floating focus group of 1,500 each week get the info and give their input.

There’s no doubt that the market has become one of the primary channels for the neighborhood to come together over a project that, done right, could add an amenity for Kingfield and surrounding neighborhoods that can be as beloved as our farmers market seems to be. There are lots of reasons we live here, but we’re happy the Kingfield Farmers Market helps create more.


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 kingfieldmarket.org.a