Green digest // Zoning change could boost Uptown Market

Zoning change could boost Uptown Market

THE WEDGE — A proposed amendment to city zoning code would strip away some of the red tape that has ensnared Uptown Market, the Lyn-Lake area’s seasonal farmers market and craft fair.

The amendment would create a new land-use definition for a “produce and craft market” written to accommodate Uptown Market’s mingling of produce stands with other non-food vendors selling handmade arts and crafts. The new definition was included in a package of zoning code amendments mostly dealing with urban agriculture that is on schedule for a February City Council vote (see cover story).

Uptown Market debuted in 2009 with four monthly events on West 29th Street between Dupont and Lyndale avenues. It operated in that first year under city special event permits, which allowed for a mix of food and non-food vendors to participate.

But to return in 2010 as a weekly event, Uptown Market’s all-volunteer staff agreed to operate under a farmers market permit, which limited non-food vendors to no more than 25 percent of all vendors at any event.

Shaun Laden, a key market organizer, said the change in permits was part of a “grand bargain” struck with city staff before the 2010 season. It made the move from a monthly to weekly event possible by satisfying concerns from the city health department.

Since then, though, growth of the market has fallen short of expectations. In 2009, the four monthly events sometimes drew 80 vendors; this summer, it drew about 20 vendors per week, on average.

Occasional special event permits allowed a greater proportion of artisans and
craftspeople to participate in some Uptown Market events this summer. Still, the market fell short of revenue goals, and organizers were not able to follow through on plans to hire a paid staff person.

The proposed definition for a produce and craft market sets the minimum number of food vendors at 30 percent of the total market. Up to 70 percent could sell non-food goods.

“What this allows us to do is function as the market has done at various times throughout the last three years, but do it every week the same way with just one permit,” Laden said. “It makes a lot less administrative hassle for us.”

Laden said the change wouldn’t eliminate the Uptown Market’s most significant expense, which will remain the cost of the street closure permits required to hold the Uptown Market on West 29th Street. But inviting more art and craft vendors week-to-week should help to boost revenues, he predicted.

“This way, week in and week out, we can make it our goal to fill up as many blocks as we can with artists, and then that way it helps us create a better market,” Laden said.

City Council action in October created a new license for produce and craft markets. The zoning text amendment will bring zoning code in-line with the new licensing rules.

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Homegrown Minneapolis meeting Dec. 12

The members of the new Minneapolis Food Council will be announced at a Homegrown Minneapolis community meeting scheduled for 5 p.m.–7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at the University Research and Outreach Center, 2001 Plymouth Ave. N.

The Minneapolis Food Council is intended to develop local food policy and advise city leaders on issues like farmers markets, community gardening and local production and processing of foods. It was created in September by a resolution of the City Council.

The food council will include up to 19 members. Five members will represent city departments, while the rest of the seats will be filled with council and mayoral appointees.

The council is the latest outgrowth of the Homegrown Minneapolis initiative, an effort to increase production, distribution and consumption of locally grown foods in Minneapolis.

The agenda for the Dec. 12 Homegrown Minneapolis community meeting also includes an update on the first two phases of the initiative. Participants will have the opportunity to share their priorities for a sustainable local foods system.

For more information on the food council, visit the Homegrown Minneapolis section of the city’s website: minneapolismn.gov/dhfs/homegrown-home.asp.

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City installs new bicycle pumps

Southwest residents who commute to Downtown by bicycle can now pump up under-inflated tires at several free city bike pumps.

The new pumps were installed near the bicycle racks at several Downtown locations, including City Hall, the Minneapolis Convention Center and the city’s Public Service Center, 250 S. 4th St. Pumps were also installed at the Minneapolis Farmers Market and outside the 2nd and 3rd precinct Police Department buildings.

The city’s Department of Health and Family Support purchased the pumps, which were manufactured Minneapolis-based Dero Bike Racks.