“Usually, the community creates the farmers’ market, but in this case, the farmers’ market is creating the community” Wendy Huebner observes. Wendy is the intrepid manager of the fledgling Village Farmer’s Market set to open this summer in St. Anthony Village. The farmers’ market will operate on Monday afternoons, July 12 through October 11 (closed Labor Day) at the St. Anthony Village Shopping Center.
It’s been a challenge for Huebner, summoning a mix of skills garnered as a life long dental hygienist, one-time cable TV producer (“Blind Date of Green Bay”), and ballroom dance teacher. As a five-year resident of St. Anthony Village, Huebner questioned her community’s lack of a farmers’ market, and set out to organize one in August 2009.
Huebner turned first to the broad mix of farmers’ market managers, ranging from the megas to the IATP minis and the array of community and neighborhood markets that have sprung up in city squares and church parking lots throughout the suburbs. What she found was a potpourri of possibilities and a network of generous and knowledgeable veterans of market management. Buoyed by their support, Huebner took the plunge into entrepreneurship in a dynamic farmers’ market milieu.
The first challenge was site. Huebner convinced Al Ester, owner of the St. Anthony Village Shopping Center, to contribute prime space, available as soon as the seasonal resident, Linder’s Flower Mart, closes the garden center. It’s prime property, on the west border of New Brighton Boulevard, where the boulevard intersects St. Anthony Parkway, Silver Lake Road and a mix of bus routes heads in all directions.
Then came a barrage of legal and bureaucratic hurdles. Huebner chose to set up a nonprofit corporation, which required building a board, crafting articles of incorporation and completing forms. With the assistance of a local (pro bono) attorney, Huebner incorporated and negotiated the often-confusing maze of licenses, permits, fiscal agency and finances.
More important is building a network of enthusiastic support. Huebner has spent hours meeting with St Anthony Shopping Center merchants and the local Chamber of Commerce. Zipping from portal to portal in her distinctive yellow Suzuki, Huebner has met with merchants in St. Anthony Village and adjacent areas including Northeast Minneapolis, New Brighton and Lauderdale. Local merchants have contributed time, ideas and a hearty welcome to the farmer’s market venture.
Huebner contacted prospective vendors from growers throughout the region. Recruits include a number of vendors for whom this is a first-time venture. Emphasis is on fresh produce, though Huebner and her board are open to other possibilities. This years offerings include cheese, pickles, chocolate, baked goods, honey, local fruits and jams – and more.
Finding the Village Farmers’ Market
The Village Farmer’s Market will be open every Monday, 3:00-7:00 p.m. July 12 through October 11th.
Visit the Village Farmer’s Market website, friend them on Facebook, and sign up for their blog to be automatically updated on what’s new at the market each week and on the renaissance of one of the area’s most historic communities. Connect with Wendy Huebner at email@example.com or 612 466 1046.
Huebner found lots of help from area farmer’s market managers. The VFM is a member of the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association which provides assistance including a manual and seminars geared to market managers and vendor/growers and of Minnesota Grown which provides a link between markets and vendors. The Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Associates addresses the needs of growers aiming to serve a farmer’s market constituency. The IATP mini-markets offered through the city of Minneapolis offer yet another glimpse of a growing effort to expand access to locally grown healthy produce.
Huebner’s creative approach to financing the market is ingenious and multi-pronged. There was a Christmas 2009 craft fair and fundraiser. Now Wendy and her board are promoting discount coupons redeemable at local merchants for everything from affordable child care at the local fitness center to tanning sessions to discounts at the local bookstore and thrift center. (Check out the website for an ever-expanding list of participating vendors and their offers.
Community building means more than green beans and new potatoes, so Wendy is working now on programming. Monday afternoons also feature reading to children at the nearby St. Anthony branch of the Hennepin County Library. The market itself has a call out for muscians, jugglers, photographers and buskers, as well as an invitation to cooks who want to share culinary talents. People who study or remember local history will share community stories. Mobile food vendors, including the Magic Bus Café and The Chef Shack will be on hand to provide instant gratification in the form of healthy snacks. TeaSource will provide complimentary ice tea at the market. Vendors and programs will evolve with the season.