From field to market

Uproot Farm 2014 Holiday Market
Sarah Woutat, left, is the new market manager for Neighborhood Roots. She is pictured with a friend, Marina Delneri, at her old Uproot Farm booth.

I am proud to join the Neighborhood Roots team as the new market manager for Fulton, Kingfield and Nokomis farmers markets.

I previously was a vendor at both Fulton and Kingfield, so I know the markets well, but from a very different angle. I’ve been a farmers market customer in cities from Portland to New York, shopping as both a layperson and as a farmer, and the Neighborhood Roots markets are some of the best I’ve seen from either perspective.

When I bought the property near Princeton that would become Uproot Farm in 2010, I planned to offer community-supported agriculture shares, sell wholesale and vend at only one farmers market. I visited markets across the Twin Cities trying to decide where to sell my vegetables.

I knew where I wanted to be after spending a Sunday at Kingfield Farmers Market.

It was a vibrant community meeting spot. It also seemed like a market where growers were able to charge a fair price for the work they put into their product. Most importantly, people were really doing their grocery shopping and appeared to have relationships with the producers.

I spoke to the manager, and he said there was no room at Kingfield but that they were opening a new market the following season — Fulton Farmers Market. So, in January of 2011 I applied to only one market and crossed my fingers.

In early June I attended Fulton Farmers Market for the first time as a vendor and have been back every Saturday since. As a market vendor I have formed lasting relationships with both customers and vendors, many of which transcend the market space and have become personal, including meeting my partner at the market.

As I showed up to sell my plants and produce week after week, behind the scenes was a hard-working team of volunteer board members, various volunteer committees, an executive director and a market manager who worked full time, year-round to make the market happen. They form neighborhood partnerships, find sponsorship for the market, run all of the logistics of the market and do so much more.

I am thrilled to be part of the small team that gets to help make these community events happen 68 times over the course of the season. I have big shoes to fill.

Rebecca Noble, the former market manager who departed Neighborhood Roots in the fall, did an amazing job running the show for last past five years. As the new market manager, I look forward to deepening the relationships I’ve made over the last eight years and forming new ones.

Stop by and say hi at the Neighborhood Roots Winter Markets taking place at Bachman’s on Lyndale 9 a.m.–1:30 p.m. on the Saturdays of Jan. 26, Feb. 23 and March 23. Stock up on jam, pickles honey, syrup, meat, cheese, eggs, bread, cold-storage produce, artisan crafts and so much more. Enjoy hot food, live music and a mimosa or two while supporting local farmers and makers.

Our Winter Markets are made possible by generous community sponsors, including Hero Plumbing Heating and Cooling, Nicollet ACE Hardware and Augustine Team of Keller Williams.

You can support the Winter Markets by purchasing a drink or raffle ticket at the markets. The raffle prize in January is a Power Clear Snowblower courtesy of Toro. One-hundred percent of liquor and raffle sales support the market, thanks to the in-kind donations from Book Club Restaurant, Lakes & Legends Brewing Company, Lake Wine & Spirits and The Toro Company.

You can also help us make the markets happen by becoming a donor, volunteer or vendor. To learn more about getting involved with your neighborhood farmers market, visit our website or inquire in person at the Winter Markets. Just ask for Sarah or Emily. See you there!