In Defense of the Minneapolis Farmers Market

I received this letter from Susan Berkson, longtime environmental health advocate and co-host of "Fresh & Local" (on AM950, Saturdays, 8 am), in response to my question regarding her role at the Minneapolis Farmers Market, and whether the market is misunderstood within the local community. I liked the letter so much I decided to publish it, with Susan’s permission, of course.

My role is busybody. Not really. Bless the market, they asked me to host their new radio show and I said, Yes, and. Yes, I will host and I want to do social media and help with x, y, and z. So here I am.

And I have become such a fan of the Market and farmers. My understanding of the food system has broadened and deepened.

There used to be 12 red sheds filled with farmers, but by the 70's, there were so few local growers that the city was going to tear down the remaining three. It was the resellers who saved them. Without them, the farmers market would have disappeared. Today, the growers association has 240 grower-members and 5 reseller-members. It’s easy to frown on them, but they serve a need. As they did when they saved the market in the 70's.

We are in an under-served neighborhood. A neighborhood without food security. Without us, there would be no fruits or vegetables in this area. So by default, we are the green grocer for this neighborhood. And people want their bananas and pineapples and cherries. And they should be able to get them. Regardless of their income.

I don't know about you, but I like bananas. I like them year-round. Coffee, too. And none of it is grown here.

There is a moratorium on resellers, so no new ones can join. But those who are members now are not being kicked out. They fill a need. And when strawberries and raspberries are in season here, the resellers are not allowed to sell them.

The resellers meet a need. And that need should be met.

We feed families here, Minneapolis families. We are their green grocer.

When Second Harvest wanted a partner to provide real produce for families, they came to us. We have the real produce to serve families. Nobody else does.

Also, to serve the community, starting July 21, we are open on Tuesday evenings so people can shop after work. And there will be no resellers. It will be all locally grown.

240 grower-members here. Not trendy. Not chic. Not hip. But real.

It’s dense, crowded. noisy. The amenities are few. There are no corporate funders or deep-pocketed backers.

Which is why I took a picture of the mayor when I saw him at the Market Sunday, and I thanked him for coming.


Please let me know what YOU think. Is the Minneapolis Farmers Market serving its community? Is it okay to eat bananas and drink coffee in Minnesota? Is all-local the only way to go? Please comment below.