Maple Grove Farmers Market: 10 years of ‘much loved tradition’

Thursday, June 13, marks the 10th anniversary of where area residents can come and buy home-grown, home-made goodies in Maple Grove. The Maple Grove Farmers Market is celebrating 10 years of a “much loved tradition” in the area.

The Maple Grove Farmers Market opened July of 2004. Here is a picture from opening day. (Sun staff file photo)

The Maple Grove Farmers Market opened July of 2004. Here is a picture from opening day. (Sun staff file photo)

Through the years the market has kept a steady number of vendors but has seen a definite increase in the number of shoppers to the market each year.

Carol Morris, market coordinator said, “The growth is exactly what we want in yearly attendance. The market has had about a 5 to 10 percent increase every year.”

On average the market year sees 2,000 adult shoppers. Morris said she would like to get the 3,000 mark this year.

 

THE MARKET’S 

BEGINNING YEARS

The farmers market was born July 8, 2004, with 40 vendors featured at the market. The first market only ran until Sept. 30, with hours from 4 to 8 p.m. at that time.

“We did a short time because we didn’t know how it would be received or how many vendors we would have,” Morris said.

Customers wanted an early start time for the outdoor market, so the market was open from 3 to 7 p.m. as it still is today.

The first Market Messenger customer newsletter was created in 2005. Also, in 2005, the Winter Farmers Market started. This market ran from November 2005 to May 2006.

Pictured is the a day from the 2006 Maple Grove Farmers Market. (Photo courtesy of the city of Maple Grove)

Pictured is the a day from the 2006 Maple Grove Farmers Market. (Photo courtesy of the city of Maple Grove)

The number of vendors at the market has ranged from 40 in 2004 to has high as 65 in 2009.

“We’ve fine-tuned our mix a little bit over the years,” Kirsten Bansen-Weigle, market manager, said of the vendors. “We realized we had an over abundance of produce at higher vendor times.”

Morris said it took a while to create the best vendor mix with a customer base. The first two or three years of the market were setting the foundation for the market according to Morris.

The market has always been a pet-free market for safety reasons. Morris said this is regulated by the Minnesota Department of Health, as well as it is a Maple Grove Park Board policy.

 

ADDITIONS TO THE MARKET

Over the years the farmers market has added events to its weekly produce and goods sales.

The market has added weekly entertainment. This includes live music beginning in 2008 from area musicians as well as the 4:30 p.m. family storytime when school is not in session. The storytime started in 2009.

In 2007, ready-to-eat foods came to the market. Bansen-Weigle said they wanted to offer these types of foods because it was in the afternoon and evening and it was a convience.

There have been recipe and chef demos included each week. The Market Info Booth offers free recipes every Thursday. Market-goers have been able to pick up free recipes since 2009. Also, throughout the season, there are chef demos and samples.

Also added was the Frequent Shopper Program in 2010.

New this year the market will be accepting EBT (electronic benefits transfer) payments. EBT users will be able to find the Market Info Trailer, swipe their EBT card to purchase market tokens. Those tokens than can be used to purchase fresh food products from market vendors. Some of the foods that would be available for purchase with EBT cards will be fruits, vegetables, seeds and plants and produce foods, meat, fish poultry, dairy products, maple and honey products, breads, baked goods, jams and sauces.

Eventually the market would like to allow credit and debit cards to be use throughout the market. Some of the vendors have the capability to take card payments through their cell phones though.

 

MARKET MISSION

Bansen-Weigle said there are two missions of the market — to serve the Maple Grove community and to provide a great opportunity for our vendors.

A ribbon cutting ceremony took place July 8, 2004, for the new Maple Grove Farmers Market. (Sun staff file photo)

A ribbon cutting ceremony took place July 8, 2004, for the new Maple Grove Farmers Market. (Sun staff file photo)

“We are still a very good sized suburban market,” she added. “We think 50 to 55 vendors is where we want to be.”

The market has had six vendors return every year since the beginning in 2004.

All the food is vendor-grow, vendor-made that is sold at the market. The vendors are from Minnesota, with one from Wisconsin. Vendors also sell their own products.

Morris and Bansen-Weigle said they couldn’t do much of what they do without the help of volunteers. They have built up a volunteer base over the 10 years. The volunteers work behind the scene, provide customer service, set up, count customers, chef demonstrations, special events, photos and more.

“We really rely on our staff and volunteers,” Bansen-Weigle said.

 

THE 2013 MARKET

The market now has a total of 49 vendors, which is a good number and good mix according to Morris and Bansen-Weigle.

This year’s market will feature breads, meats, eggs, canned goods, pasta, flowers, honey, syrup, cheese, Libense products, flax, baked treats, gluten free (two new vendors), sunflower and olive oils, Bloody Mary mix and more. Ready-to-eat foods will include: wood-fire pizza, nachos, calzones, Pilgrim catering, grilled pork chops, ice cream, cup cakes, pretzels and cookies.

The Maple Grove City Council also provided $2,000 to the farmers market to recognize and help celebrate its 10th anniversary. According to staff, “The city of Maple Grove is proud of its farmers market. It provides a vibrant and healthful atmosphere and plays an important role in supplying local food for the community each year. To mark the 10th anniversary, a Farmers Market Local Foods Dinner will be  held Tuesday, July 23. This special dinner will be catered by local chef Rolando Diaz, and the majority of the dinner’s ingredients will be sourced from the Maple Grove Farmers Market.”

The 2013 Maple Grove Farmers Market runs every Thursday from June 13 to Oct. 24, rain or shine. Hours are from 3 to 7 p.m. June through September and from 3 to 6 p.m. in October.

Those interested can find out more information at maplegrovefarmersmarket.com, on Facebook and Twitter.

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