I spent summers growing up on the St. Croix River, where my family had a summer place. Every weekend seemed to be an event. I don’t know if it was because all of the fathers — who disappeared early in the morning to go to work in St. Paul — were home in shorts on Saturday just like the rest of us. But, whatever it was, somehow those summer weekends were sharply delineated from the ho-hum of Monday through Friday.
Now, like a lot of people in our Southwest Minneapolis neighborhood, I look forward to walking over to the Fulton Farmers Market at 49th & Chowen most Saturday mornings. The market is a weekly moveable feast of food and conversation, the likes of which I haven’t experienced since I was a kid — with the same elements of anticipation, focus and unadulterated pleasure.
The Fulton Farmers Market has provided the magnet to really pull together an already successful urban neighborhood. There might be another way to accomplish this, but frankly I can’t think of what that would be.
Athletic fields for softball and soccer, lakes, tennis courts, restaurants, shops? All of these, in different combinations and permutations, make Southwest neighborhoods special.
But a neighborhood farmers market provides a unique gathering place for people of all ages, athletic abilities or lack thereof, tastes and backgrounds, to come together once a week in pursuit of locally grown produce and locally produced delicacies — almost certainly while consuming something from the wide palette of lunch or breakfast treats cooked up by market vendors and talking with neighbors.
Like its sister, the Kingfield Farmers Market at 43rd & Nicollet, the Fulton Farmers Market is a little bit like an Indian bazaar right in the middle of Southwest Minneapolis.
In the spring of 2010, David Brauer and David Nicholson of Kingfield Farmers Market got together with Meg Cowden and some other interested folks from Fulton who wanted to create a market there. It’s a big undertaking to put together a farmers market from scratch. You have to find a place to have it, line up a steady cadre of vendors, hire staff, find volunteers — you get the idea.
One quite special byproduct of all of this is how well the Fulton people (who ended up joining the board of the Kingfield Farmers Market nonprofit corporation) have gotten to know the Kingfield people along the way.
I’ve often thought that the way we’ve named individual neighborhoods (Kingfield, Fulton, Linden Hills, Cedar-Isles, etc.) — complete with their own governing councils — has helped to create little fiefdoms south of downtown. So, to me, it’s been quite wonderful how two of those little fiefdoms joined together in the process of making a new market.
Jeff Alden is a Minneapolis lawyer and vice chair of the Kingfield Farmers Market. He lives in Fulton.
Fulton Farmers Market
49th & Chowen
Saturdays, 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
May 21–Oct. 29
Follow on Twitter @fultonmarketmn
Kingfield Farmers Market
4310 Nicollet Ave.
Sundays, 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
May 22–Oct. 30
Follow on Twitter @kingfieldmarket