There are many reasons to visit your local farmers market: access to great, fresh produce, buying face to face from the producer and having a gathering place for the neighborhood. Another reason that isn’t always thought of is a chance to discover new foods and new businesses.
Once of the market’s goals is to be an incubator for new business. Farmers markets are a great way to test out a new concept and new products. Hometown favorites Bogart’s Doughnuts, Sun Street Breads and The Beez Kneez are just three examples of popular businesses that were all early vendors at our markets.
This year, between the Fulton, Kingfield and Nokomis markets, we’ve had thirteen vendors kick off a new business venture, and many more have expanded to our markets as they gradually scale up.
One brand new vender is Ginger Mann ginger ale. Owner Rick Mann was exposed to different kinds of ginger ales from his parents’ travels to Bermuda. He began making it himself years ago, testing out different recipes and working to make a good ginger ale with less sugar. He succeeded by creating a product that contains less sugar then most commercially produced ginger ales. He also became interested in the health benefits of ginger, including help with gastro-intestinal issues and its use as an anti-inflammatory.
After years of years of making it for his family, Rick decided this winter to get serious and start selling his product. He perfected the recipe, and his wife took on marketing and design.
Rick lives in the Kingfield neighborhood and saw our markets as a great fit, excited about the idea of keeping it local. If you have never had craft ginger ale you are in for a treat. He sells glasses of his signature drink, and if you want something a little extra he will add cayenne pepper or fruit puree.
Rick said his experience at the markets this summer had far exceeded his expectations. Based on customer requests, he started selling his ginger ale in growlers and has sold out of the first set and is awaiting his second order. Rick can be found at the Fulton and Kingfield markets through mid September. His website is gingermann.com.
Another brand new business at our markets is Tbsp. Liege Waffles. Owner Rachel Thompson spent time in college traveling through Europe, where she saw waffle street vendors everyplace she went. But Thompson wasn’t that impressed with them until she came home and worked on some recipes of her own.
Thompson makes Liege waffles, which are richer and denser than the more common Belgian waffle. They use brioche type dough with caramelized pearl sugar. You can also add toppings like salted caramel or berry cheesecake. The denseness of the waffle makes it very easy to wrap up and carry with you as you shop the markets.
Rachel, who just graduated from the University of Minnesota this spring, knew she wanted to have her own business, and she worked for and sought out people that would be great mentors, including the owners of Rise Bagels, Sift and Bogart’s Doughnuts. Those are all vendors of the Neighborhood Roots markets, so she saw the market as a natural fit for a place to start selling her waffles.
Rachel says that this first year has far exceeded her expectations, and the biggest challenge is getting people to try the product — but once they do, the sell get easier. The smell of waffles cooking as customers walk by doesn’t hurt either. Rachel and her waffles will be at the Fulton Farmers market through the first weekend in September. Her website is tbspwaffles.com.
There is still plenty of summer goodness left at the farmers market this year. Fulton and Kingfield run through the end of October! We hope to see you there soon — soaking up all we have to offer, discovering your new favorite food, stocking up on some old classics for end of summer salads or annual canning projects and spending some time out with your neighbors in the process.
Sasha Jensen is a Fulton resident who joined the Neighborhood Roots board in 2015. She left her job in advertising to stay home with her three young daughters and has spent the summer at the market, local parks and lakes soaking in all South Minneapolis has to offer.