Small Mpls farmers markets require more vendors to be farmers

Farmers market edited.jpg

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.

  • Alison

    Well, it’s a start. I used to be a weekly shopper at the Minneapolis Farmers Market & Annex by the Intl Market Square. I pretty much quit shopping there as it became a third flea market and a third produce distributor rejects. It was a pretty sad change really. Thankfully the Midtown Farmers Market has a good mix of local farmers and crafters.

    I’m not sure I like the idea of creating an ordinance for this though. Seems like something that should have taken care of through normal business pressures. Maybe that has been happening with the rise of smaller, neighborhood markets.

  • Roo

    Why isn’t the main Mpls Farmers Mkt also subject to this new rule?

  • Jack

    Overdue in my opinion. I’m looking for local produce — not stuff from the wholesale vegetable trade!

    Too bad they craftily left out the main event. Must need to please someone besides farmers…

  • Alison

    How did I miss that exception for the main farmers market? I hope they either take the hint or fail due people switching to where the local produce is found.

  • Jennifer

    As a long-time vendor at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market, I regard this ordinance with mixed feelings. I am not a farmer…I am one of those “other” vendors selling jewelry from my travels in SE Asia. I have watched the quality and authenticity of the products at the Farmer’s Market fall over the years, and in addition to affecting the business of the farmer’s at the market, it has also affected my independently owned, local business. Many of the other vendors at the Mpls. Farmer’s Market are also travelers or immigrants who hand select items, made by artists who will never have the opportunity to sell their products in the US. We bring with us the stories and connections that bring something special to the markets where we sell. We are not ordering products out of a catalog, or retailing items whose history it a mystery, so to speak. All over the world, markets thrive with a dizzying array of products available in one place. in the end, the marketplace should dictate what businesses survive at the markets, not a city ordinance.

  • Bonnie Dehn–President -CMVGA

    I am a farmer from the Mpls. Farmers Mkt. The Central Minnesota Vegetable Growers govern and operate the Mpls. Farmers Market. The resellers have been a part of the MFM since 1971. The “true” growers consist of greater than 90% of the CMVGA membership. Our current membership is greater than 250 members–of which 15 members are resellers. We as an organization, have worked very hard to maintain a balance with the emphasis of our growers.

    I encourage everyone to visit the MPLS FARMERS MARKET and “get to know” their growers. Dehn’s Garden–Bob and Bonnie Dehn have attended the MFM since 1979 and are a “true family farm”.

    The CENTRAL MINNESOTA VEGETABLE GROWERS ASSOCIATION has been in existence since 1941. The Mpls. Farmers Mkt has governed itself since 1971–giving, the growers priority in our area,, space to sell their produce. Since we have strict control of the numbers of resellers ,we, at MFM have not had issues of the “greater numbers” of resellers–we have set perimeters to benefit all.

    Please do not confuse the Minneaplois market ANNEX-the “private” market next door, as a part of the Minneapolis Farmers Market (MINNEAPOLIS MUNICIPAL MARKET).