Gearing up for another farmers market season

From year to year there are always unknowns about what will be at the market on opening day. What produce might the weather and growing conditions have in store for us?

Over 15 seasons at Kingfield, it’s never been quite the same. This year, April’s weather teased hot then cold, but when we open on May 22, there’s little doubt that rhubarb, asparagus and green onions will be plentiful from the get-go.

More or less sunshine between now and then still leaves plenty of wiggle room for extra additions, of course; it wouldn’t be Minnesota without some surprises.

Ronah and Moses of Dawn2Dusk Farms installed a new hoophouse this winter, and are expecting that that will translate into the capacity and stock for them to be at the market earlier than they ever have before. They’ll join Uproot Farm (now a full-season vendor in 2016) and perhaps Yang’s Fresh Produce and Yer Yang’s Produce with early greens such as chard, kale, spinach and lettuces.

In addition to annual vegetable and flower plant starts from a variety of our farmers, new vendor Perennial Partners Nursery will be offering fruit trees and berry plants for the first weeks of the season, joining Humble Acres with perennial plant offerings.

Cherry Tree House Mushrooms, who made brief appearances at Kingfield back in 2013, will be returning more regularly this year, bringing fresh and dried mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, and lion’s mane among others) as well as mushroom butters and pates.

Solveig of Sun Street Breads has long been dreaming about Minneapolis getting back on the map as a milling and grain capital. From the looks of vendor applications this year, it seems that little by little we may be getting closer. Look for increased used of local grains in Sun Street’s market breads this year, and samples, too.

Clover Bee Farm is currently experimenting with a quarter acre of a hard red winter wheat. If all goes right, Andrew and Margo are planning on hand-harvesting it with scythes this fall and it may make an appearance at the market as wheat berries, or potentially even milled wheat. Clover Bee also undertook the extensive process of applying for organic certification this winter.

New vendor Dumpling & Strand will offer fresh noodles and pastas, including a wholegrain rotini made with Kernza, a perennial intermediate wheatgrass that’s being heralded as “the future of wheat” and is popping up on select restaurant menus in conjunction with testing at the University of Minnesota. (Wheat-averse? Not to fear; they’ll also have gluten-free varieties.)

What goes well with fresh pasta, breads, and market veggies? Cheese! Kingfield staple LoveTree Farmstead has developed new varieties of their cave-aged goat, cow, and sheep’s milk cheeses. New vendor Cosmic Wheel Creamery, which made its Neighborhood Roots debut at our indoor winter markets, will be at Kingfield monthly this year, adding fresh cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta to the mix.

New vendors GingerMann, and Calvit’s Shrubs will be expanding the market’s beverage offerings. They’ll join Bee Brews in offering a variety of soda syrups, ginger beer, and drinking shrubs. Some will be to take home and mix into a cocktail; others you’ll be able to enjoy as a cool drink on-site while taking advantage of the market’s expanded café seating.

Itching for a new market T-shirt? Look for a new design and a full range of sizes available starting opening day, as well as posters of our popular “what’s in season” graphic.

On the events side, our market calendar is filling up quickly. Interest from top-notch musicians looking to play at the market has never been higher, and we have a fantastic line-up of live music scheduled for every Sunday at 10 a.m.

Curious about canning your market produce, or how to grill it, along with your market meats? We’ll hold our annual canning demonstration in August in conjunction with Kingfield’s sustaining supporter, Nicollet Ace Hardware. Look for news about our grill-out day to come!

Mark your calendars now for a puppet show from Open Eye Figure Theatre on July 10, as well as engaging kids’ activities throughout the season thanks to support from Jardin Mágico.

Looking ahead to September, we’ll also be open all day to participate in Nicollet Open Streets on the 26th of that month, thanks to our Neighborhood Roots organization-wide supporter, Uptown Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling.

Sound like a jam-packed season? It should be! And we haven’t yet gotten to talking about the party. Stay tuned, and see you at the market!

Alexandra Cortes is the executive director of Neighborhood Roots. She has been growing with the markets since 2011. 

FYI …

Kingfield Farmers Market

Where: 4310 Nicollet Ave. S.

When: Sunday, 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m., May 22-Oct. 30

More info: neighborhoodrootsmn.org/about/kingfield