Farmers’ markets are in full swing for the season, and there is no shortage of vendors waiting to sell their product. Here is a behind the scenes look at doing business in a farmer’s market.
St. Paul Farmer’s Market: 290 5th Street East, St Paul
The St. Paul Farmers’ Market is open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays from April to October. The market is open year round, and is held at Golden’s Deli on Saturdays (9 a.m.-1 p.m.) in the winter months, according to grower Jeannie Rasmussen.
At the St. Paul Farmers’ Market, vendors pay $35 on Saturday for a spot at the market and $20 on Sunday, according to assistant market manager Sherry Haselmann. According to Rasmussen, there is a waiting list that spans a couple years with priority given to veteran vendors, and the acceptance of new members depends on turnover of current members.
According to Rasmussen, the rules of the market are that a vendor must grow their own produce or bake their own goods to sell at the market, and that it must be either grown or made in Wisconsin on Minnesota. Produce does not have to be organic. Produce cannot be bought and resold at the market. Craft items can be sold at the market. She also said that vendors must commit to being there every week, all day, until 1 p.m. on both days.
As far as making a profit, Rasmussen says that she has no problem doing so, with up to 500 customers a day. “For us it’s really, really good because everybody likes tomatoes,” she said. “We grow them all year round and they really like good tomatoes. They can’t get that in the store. So for us we do profit quite well here.”
Minneapolis Farmer’s Market: 312 East Lyndale Avenue North, Minneapolis
The Minneapolis Farmers’ Market is open every day from mid-April to mid-November from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends. During the winter months, from November to April, the market is still held outdoors. “We are extending our winter hours to include Saturdays every other weekend after January 1 through the 15 of April,” market manager Larry Cermak said.
At the Minneapolis market, the rent is $10 a day, Monday through Thursday, $25 on Friday, and $50 on Saturday and Sunday, according to Cermak. Though there’s not a waiting list at the Minneapolis market, the maximum number that the market can hold is 240 farmers.
Rules are similar to the Saint Paul market, except that produce does not need be from Minnesota or Wisconsin. Most of the produce does come from Minnesota and Wisconsin, though some products come from all over the world. According to Cermak, very little organic produce is sold at the market. Sale of crafts and artisan products is not allowed at the market.
According to Cermak, farmers do not need to commit to being there every day the market is open, nor do they need to stay for the whole time. “They can stay there any period of time. Some people disperse when they run out of things to sell,” Cermak said.
In terms of making a profit at the market, Cermak says it is as simple as “to have a good product to be able to sell.”
Midtown Farmer’s Market: Lake Street and 22nd Avenue S, Minneapolis
The Midtown Farmer’s Market in Minneapolis currently has 80 vendors, with vendors paying $25 to sell on Saturdays and $15 on Tuesdays. There is a waiting list with about six people. The market is not accepting any more produce or prepared food vendors for this year, according to interim market manager Amy Behrens
The market is open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. May through October and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays June through October and accepts credit cards as well as EBT cards.
According to Behrens, there are two types of vendors at the Midtown Farmer’s Market. Seasonal vendors pay to be at the market for a set number of weeks, and some vendors pay by the day and do not need to commit to being there for a set number of weeks.
Produce does not have to be organic, but it does need to be locally grown in either Minnesota or Wisconsin, and crafts sold need to be handmade. “Generally everything is pretty chemical free,” said Behrens, “but we don’t have many certified organic vendors. I think we prioritize local over organic.”