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Nutritious is delicious

Seven seasons, seven reasons to love the U of M Farmers Market

By Susan Wiese


July 12, 2011

A sure sign that summer is here is the opening of the University of Minnesota Farmers Market. The market comes to the Church Street pedestrian mall on the East Bank beginning July 13, 11–2 p.m., and continues every Wednesday thereafter through Oct. 5. Mark your calendars now: Google calendar; Apple iCal.

With a growing cycle that began with below average temperatures and waterlogged fields, vendors will be putting their best foot forward to kick off the market.

Now in its seventh season, here are seven reasons to make it a Wednesday must do:

1. Nutritious really is delicious.

Centennial Cookbook

This spring, just as soon as locally grown ingredients were ready, chefs at the U's Campus Club began buying chard, kale, lettuce, onions, and arugula—all of which will be available at the market.

As part of the Campus Club's Centennial celebrations in 2011, the club published the Centennial Cookbook—the first cookbook ever compiled in the club's 100 years. Recipes include many club favorites. The book will be available for sale at the Farmers Market and online.

Campus Club executive chef Beth Jones says that when you can use produce that is locally grown, guaranteed fresh, and perfectly ripe, it takes the work and the worry out of the kitchen. "You don't have to coax flavor out of fruits and vegetables," says Jones. "It's already there." The 12 to 18 vendors who supply the University of Minnesota Farmers Market all travel under 2.5 hours to bring the freshest of the fresh in fruits, vegetables, savory herbs, and fragrant flowers to the East Bank campus—nutrition intact (gustatory and olfactory). By the 11 a.m. market start, it's likely the tomatoes haven't been off the vine for more than a few hours.

Visitors to the market will also discover that what tastes good is good for you—even, in some cases, food on a stick. University Dining Services will be at the market grilling kabobs made from veggies that are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber to protect your health and keep calories in check, plus grilled corn-on-the-cob and seasonal salads.

2. Organic options

The berries, herbs, and vegetables being sold at the market by Cornercopia, the student-managed farm on the St. Paul campus, travel a mere 4.2 miles from dirt to the market.

Cornercopia is the sole organic supplier to the University market, meaning the student farmers use only chemicals or herbicides to control weeds or pests which have been approved for use by organic farmers. They also use compost to enhance fertility and the quality of the soil.

Cornercopia blog

Find out how the students who run Cornercopia have been nursing along their seedlings through this spring's less-than-desirable weather. CFANS student Samantha Dvorak, writes, "Pre-season is filled with all the hope in the world; hope that everything will grow successfully, hope that you chose the most delicious variety of tomatoes, and hope that there will never be a weed that can bring you down."

3. New vendors, more variety

Two new vendors will be joining the market this summer. A supplier from Shakopee, Peter's Pumpkins and Carmen's Corn, are a husband and wife team who will be selling berries this season (and, it's likely, corn and pumpkins). And later on, look for a Faribault grower who will be supplying fresh melons and Minnesota-grown apples.

4. Be green, save green

With fuel prices approaching four dollars a gallon, the field-to-fork cost per single serving of food, in terms of energy use, is far less when the berries come from fields in Minnesota or nearby Wisconsin instead of California, says Jill Thielen, administrator for the U's Wellness Program, which sponsors the market. In addition to being environmentally conscious and having more money left in your pocket, she says, you get the added bonus of experiencing the health benefits from eating nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus, you're helping out the local economy.

5. Just a wellness walk away...

Even with the Central Corridor Light Rail construction under way on campus along Washington Avenue, Church Street is still very accessible. Walk over to the market, stroll down the pedestrian mall, and it is possible to build some easy physical activity into a lunch break. View these maps of easy wellness walks around the Twin Cities campus.

Shopping tips

Bring change and small bills.

Bring large bags with handles or a backpack to carry your purchases.

Arrive early for the best selection. (Arrive near closing time and you may find a deal.)

Buy only what you can use for a week to assure freshness.

Refrigerate your perishable purchases as soon as possible.

Ask questions and get to know the farmers.

6. Did I hear free?

Yes you did. Visitors to the market will have an opportunity to taste free organic mint iced tea, courtesy of the Campus Club; Recreational Sports instructors will be on hand to offer free fitness tips; and depending upon which Wednesday of the month it is, market-goers can take advantage of a free chair massage from Boynton Health.

7. Mingle

The U is full of great faculty, staff, and students. Visit the market and mingle with the 3,000 people who are likely to attend the July 13 opener. Bump into an old friend or colleague, and maybe make a new one.

Connect with the Farmers Market online, at

Receive updates on weekly offerings at Facebook.

St. Paul and UMD markets

St. Paul campus

In the summertime, the Andrew Boss Lab of Meat Science on the St. Paul campus sells more than "meats" the eye. You can buy salad greens, garlic scapes, and more grown by Cornercopia student farmers—and, of course, bratwurst from the Lab. Wednesdays, 2–5 p.m.

Stop by the Dairy Food Products Salesroom and eat ice cream (or cheese) to your tongue's content, Wednesdays, 3–5 p.m. The Dairy Store sells items that are produced in Minnesota and certified by students, faculty, and staff.

University of Minnesota, Duluth

Every Wednesday through Sept. 28, farmers on the UMD campus sell plants, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other locally grown produce fresh from farms and gardens. The market also offers baked goods, jams, jellies, meat, eggs, and more.

University of Minnesota, Morris

The Morris Healthy Eating program at UMM supports the local Farmers Market with public relations and management support. The Farmers Market is held on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and on Thursdays, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the Aaron Carlson parking lot, downtown Morris.