As summer crops grow in, seasonal produce stands and farmers markets also start to make their return to southwest Minnesota. Local vendors have been preparing to sell their wares, and some are already up and running in the Marshall area.
The Marshall farmers market opens this Saturday and runs every Saturday into the fall, said John Blake. Blake, a Cottonwood area resident, has been involved with area farmers markets for many years. The market is located in the Schwan Food Co. north parking lot, one block west of the intersection between Main Street and College Drive.
"There's been a lot more variation, and a lot more sellers in the Marshall area over the last five or six years," Blake said. "There's always some new sellers every year."
Photo by Deb Gau
It might have been a little early for the official Marshall farmers market, but this weekend a couple of vendors like Lee Wyffels were out selling produce and foods like jam, pickles and salsa. The farmers market is open on Saturday mornings from July through October.
"I think it's an up-and-coming thing," local vendor Lee Wyffels said of farmers markets.
There were only a couple of vendors set up in Marshall on Saturday - the signs for the farmers market wouldn't officially go up until the next weekend, Wyffels said, but some sellers got an early start. Wyffels was sitting behind a table with canned goods like jars of jam, pickles and salsa, as well as other items like radishes and fresh eggs. He said he had been participating in area farmers markets for about four years, although he works together with another area resident, Russ Seeklander, who has about 15 years' experience.
"The salsa is how we started out," Wyffels said of his wares. He hoped to be able to offer more produce in the future.
"(Customers) are looking for fresher produce," Wyffels said. "And they know we've got locally grown produce, and a lot of it is organic."
"The biggest thing is the locally-grown difference," Blake said. "People say there is a difference in taste."
One of the good things for vendors about farmers markets, Wyffels said, is the opportunity to team up with other producers.
"It's nice if you can get three or four vendors together, because sometimes their produce might be better than yours," he said. Teamwork also helps make for better variety, he said.
Farmers markets are also a good way to find seasonal fruits and vegetables, Blake and Wyffels said. At this point in the season, vendors are likely to have root vegetables like beets and radishes, and greens like lettuce. Mid-season vegetables like peas and beans might also be available. Vendors like area Hmong residents also add to the variety of herbs and produce being sold, Blake said.
"They do a very good job," he said.
Several area cities around Marshall hold farmers markets, Blake said, including Montevideo, Slayton, Cottonwood, Ivanhoe and Hendricks. Tracy has started holding a weekend farmers and craft market this year, as well. Farmers markets held on weekends tend to be larger than ones held on weekdays, Blake said.