Make my market happen

The Nokomis Farmers Market. Submitted photo


Summer is BBQ Season. As Minnesotans, we delight in summer. As I sit typing this, it is 9:40 p.m. and still not quite dark. That makes me happy.

Recently on a Sunday morning, a text went out to a group of friends for an impromptu BBQ later that day. As the eight of us sat enjoying our craft beer and grilled meat, we remarked how odd it was to have 100 percent participation in a last minute BBQ. With all the activities of summer, it seems there is less and less time for enjoying a last minute BBQ with friends.

While we thoroughly enjoyed our late Sunday afternoon BBQ, there was minimal planning involved. Many of us have “big one” type BBQs on the books for the summer. I have one coming up in August, which I started planning in January. Save the Date cards went out. The actual invite will be published soon. I’ve already tried (and failed) to secure a caterer.

Now I need to start planning food, beverages, utensils, tents and coordinate who will bring what. Hopefully the day will arrive with fabulous weather, of course. Friends, food, fun and sun — what could be better than that? And then everyone leaves. Teardown, trash, recycling and getting everything back in order takes the better part of a day, even with help. Sound familiar?

Now imagine doing that three times a week — with over 105 different vendors, plus musicians and special events — all summer long.

This is what Alex, Rebecca and a handful of volunteers do — all summer, every summer. Neighborhood Roots throws you — yes you — three parties every week with vendors selling meat, cheese, eggs, produce, food trucks, live music and more.

Are you scratching your heads yet? Neighborhood Roots is the nonprofit organization that runs the Kingfield, Fulton and Nokomis Farmers Markets. I’ve been on the board of this organization for about a year and a half. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot. I joined the board, because I believe in supporting local business and the local food movement. I’m sure many of you feel the same way. That’s why you are market patrons — and we thank you for that.

However, I learned first-hand how much work it involves to deliver a high quality market experience to a friendly and engaged neighborhood. Making these markets happen is a feat and we need your help to keep them running.

In July, we are running a “Make My Market Happen” campaign to encourage you to help us “keep the lights on.”

And here’s why: The mission of Neighborhood Roots is to bring neighbors together to buy, eat and learn about local food. We support local farmers and small business, promote vibrant community and effect important changes in food and agriculture policy.

Sixty percent of the operating budget is funded by business sponsorships and fundraising. We look to partner with local businesses to secure sponsorships to support the operations of the markets. The local business community has been good to us in terms of support. Organizations such as Uptown Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling; Nicollet Ace Hardware, France 44, and the Augustine Team have supported us year after year.

As the markets grow and more relevant offerings are developed for the community, we have sometimes outgrown the budgets of the local businesses that want to support us. We realize this is a bit of a pickle.

Neighborhood Roots is small and local. We want to stay that way. We don’t want to aggressively pursue the big, corporate sponsors that would allow us to grow. We want to be a community organization. If we do that, we need you — individuals that love the markets to consider giving to help bridge our gap in funding.

We have several ways to participate in our July “Make my Market Happen” Campaign. There will be raffles and opportunities to contribute all month long. Raffle prizes aren’t too shabby: the top two are a bike and accessories from Farmstead Bike Shop or a three-burner grill from Nicollet Ace Hardware. To cap off what we expect to be a fun month of celebrating the markets, we are hosting a Neighborhood Roots Hootenanny (aka “the Rootenanny”) on Saturday, July 30.

Please join in the campaign in July. Buy a market T-shirt or a raffle ticket, drop a donation at the market table or donate online anytime at Thanks in advance, and see you at the markets!

Karin Smith has lived in the Nokomis neighborhood for five years. She can often be found walking, biking, or running in the neighborhood usually accompanied by some combination of husband, kids and dogs. By day she is a strategy consultant. At night, she is a master inventor of recipes.