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My piece in today’s Southwest Journal:

October 1, 2011

A Market View

Managing two of Minneapolis’ farmers markets is a great job. And although un-traditional, my benefits package can hardly be matched. There is a real sense of satisfaction to see empty parking lots on early Saturday and Sunday mornings and know in two short hours it will be transformed into the colorful, bustling Fulton & Kingfield Farmers Markets.

Vendors begin to arrive shortly after I do. After nearly 20 weeks of markets we have our routines down pretty pat. Most of the produce vendors have been up for hours. Everybody loads their trucks in the morning to ensure the freshest produce. Most also pick in the morning. That’s why the produce looks, smells and tastes so amazing when you come to the markets. Also among the early arrivals are the prepared food vendors so beloved. I love the smell of wood smoke and the fryer just knowing what they will produce.

Beyond the smells melding together, the people do as well. The market volunteers are very special people. Week-in and week-out they come to the market early in the morning to not only help get the market tents, tables and chairs cleaned and set up, but can be counted on to assist our vendors unload as well. Another crew of volunteers comes when the markets are winding down to help us turn these weekend festivals back into parking lots cleaner then when we started 7 hours earlier.

What I really enjoy watching is the synergy amongst and between the vendors as well as with the market-goers. For example, early on in the season the serendipitous placing of two vendors adjacent to one another, artisan pizza and wild Alaskan salmon caught and sold by the Twin Cities-based boat captain, created something that would not have otherwise existed: salmon-topped artisan pizza. Since then the collaboration between and among the vendors grows with every week. It is great to see so many of the vendors talking with each other, comparing notes and stories and sharing their offerings with each other. But most of all I enjoy seeing neighbors coming to the market and chatting with their friends and buying their produce, meat and other goodies for the week and also chatting with their new friends — the farmers, bakers, cooks and artisans with whom they have forged relationships throughout the season.

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