Enjoying Grazefest at the Mill City Farmers Market

Nestled between the theatrical masterpiece designed by famed architect Jean Nouvel and a museum built into the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill resides the Mill City Farmer’s Market, offering Twin Citians the opportunity to connect with and support local vendors each Saturday. Running from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. until October 15, this vibrant gathering place features more than 60 vendors selling everything from vegetarian curry dishes to native woodland plants.

I visited on Saturday, June 4 to experience the sights and sounds of Grazefest, their third annual event with the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota (SFA-MN) dedicated in part to educating visitors on the benefits of grass-fed, pasture-based meat. I learned how this method results in food that is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E than commercially produced grain-fed beef, doesn’t rely as heavily on fossil fuels, and incorporates a more humane practice of farming than traditional methods. The SFA also hosts an annual garlic festival to celebrate this fragrant herb (mark your calendars for Saturday, August 13 if you’re a fan). At 10 a.m., I sauntered over to the Mill City Cooks demo kitchen and listened to Sylvia Toftness, owner of Bull Brook Keep, a cattle farm for holistically raised beef located in north central Wisconsin, describe her journey from growing up in the Bronx to owning a farm in the Midwest. My purchases included a low sugar rhubarb jam from Heath Glen Kitchen, a woodland farm located near Forest Lake.

Other highlights of the Mill City Farmer’s Market included Art in the Market, showcasing a different local artist every week, the Gale Woods mini-farm, a petting zoo where young visitors can get up close and personal with animals including chickens and sheep, and a book signing from local writer Catherine Friend, author of Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep and Enough Wool to Save the Planet. It was one of those eminently enjoyable summer days we all savor in Minnesota and, when I left a short while later, the culinary palace located on Chicago Avenue and 2nd Street South was teeming with customers young and old.

After visiting the market, you can cap off the morning by taking in the Mill City Museum to learn about the early history of Minneapolis or enjoy an aerial view of the Mississippi River from the Endless Bridge, the cantilevered lobby stretching over West River Parkway located inside the Guthrie Theater. Parking is generally available at meters on the surrounding blocks or in the Mill City Quarter Municipal Parking Ramp. For information on future events at the Mill City Farmer’s Market, visit their website. Bon appétit!

The Mill City Farmers Market is located at 704 2nd Street S., Minneapolis, MN 55401. It's open from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. every Saturday through October 15.

Sarah Johnson is a local food enthusiast and volunteer for the Minneapolis-Tours Sister City Association, where she blogs about Slow Food, French cuisine and other topics. To learn more about this group, please visit their website.