A new farmers market for Fulton

Over the past many months, the Southwest Journal has been great about letting us chronicle the Kingfield Farmers market’s successes and challenges. Now we have an exciting announcement: We’re opening a second market in the Fulton neighborhood in spring 2011!

Fulton, for those of you without a neighborhood map in your head, is just south of Linden Hills and just east of Edina. It’s home to Lake Harriet School’s upper campus, Pershing Park, and the Xerxes/50th business node.

The Kingfield market runs on Sundays; the plan for Fulton is Saturdays. We don’t have a site yet, but only because our volunteers are hard at work analyzing the options. We already have a number of interested and excited vendors, though we’re definitely taking suggestions and won’t finalize a list for several months.

So why are we doubling down on farmers markets?

Quick bit of history:

With the Kingfield market thriving, we faced a choice: get bigger or not?

Getting bigger would mean a new site, which might have pushed us out of Kingfield. We didn’t want that — we love the market’s current size and convenience while being able to offer a wide variety of items. Plus, we just don’t want to mess with a part of so many folks’ Sunday routine!

Not getting bigger leaves another problem: We don’t have much money for staff, which risks volunteer burnout.

So we chose a third way: replicate Kingfield’s human scale in another locale.

When members of the Fulton Neighborhood Association approached us late last year, everything fell into place. They had an enthusiastic, active community. We had the expertise.

Now, we have Fulton folks on our board who will make sure the new market reflects another part of Southwest. We want it to be a gathering spot not just for Fulton, but Linden Hills, Armatage, Edina, St. Louis Park … anyone around here who wants a Saturday fun spot!

The new market is not only a fabulous way to reach more folks, it provides additional opportunities for the farmers and street-food vendors. We have some terrific Kingfield suppliers who would relish another day with us. The Fulton market means opportunities for new vendors, too.

Speaking of which, even though the market won’t open until next year, we need your input now. We need to identify the volunteers who can do market-day tasks, and we’d love your suggestions on vendors. Just e-mail [email protected] You can also follow us on Twitter at @fultonfarmermkt, or search for “Fulton Farmers Market” on Facebook.

As a nonprofit, all the money goes toward operating the market; the only person who gets paid is a very part-time market manager. We hope two markets means we can hire someone full-time (or nearly so) who can help us operate more smoothly year-round.

Where is all this going? For now, two markets seems like a big enough challenge. But frankly, we’d like to be stable and successful enough to expand to parts of Minneapolis where the fresh food choices aren’t as good. A farmers market is about a lot more than shopping; it’s about building a healthy food system with real options for real people. We’re not yet sure exactly what that step will look like, but we’re excited to stride west of the lake.