Small Mpls farmers markets require more vendors to be farmers

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You might see fewer bananas, avocados and sunglasses at most Minneapolis farmers markets next spring.

A new city ordinance says at least 60 percent of the vendors at farmers markets have to be food growers. The new rules do not apply to the main Minneapolis Farmers Market near Target Field, where shoppers can browse plenty of items not grown by Minnesota farmers: clothing, jewelry, soaps, plants, and fruits and vegetables that obviously can’t be grown here.

But eight other farmers markets around the city — Mill City, Midtown, Northeast, West Broadway, Uptown, Fulton, Kingfield and Nicollet Mall — will have to follow the new rules — unless they decide to become craft markets instead. As the city’s news release proclaims today, the city was interested in putting the “farmer” back in farmers markets.

The ordinance follows up on a city initiative called Homegrown Minneapolis, which aims to encourage “a local, healthy and sustainable food supply.”

City Council member Cam Gordon authored the changes and says the city’s previous farmers market ordinance was neutral on the local aspect of farmers markets.

“Before, someone could organize a ‘farmers market’ that was all food distributors bringing in produce from California,” Gordon said in a news release.

There are still no limits on that kind of activity at the main farmers market, though.

According to the release, there are several other parts to the new ordinance:

• Mini markets are included in the ordinance and are allowed to have a more flexible vendor mix, with one distributor selling fruits and vegetables not from Minnesota and one food processor that sells things like pickles or jellies.

• A new market type was created to allow certain markets to have up to 70 percent of the vendors selling arts and crafts.

• Food sampling will be easier for vendors.

• Vendors not selling food for immediate consumption can operate from unpaved surfaces.

UPDATE: I updated this post, after finding out that the Minneapolis Farmers Market — the big one located near Target Field and I-394 — is not included in the rule saying 60 percent of vendors have to be farmers. That fact was not included in the city’s news release.