- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - A May 23 story about farmers markets expanding in central Minnesota, written by the St. Cloud Times and transmitted by The Associated Press, reported erroneously that the St. Cloud Area Farmers Market is located on Division Street. The correct street is Second Street South.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Farmers markets feed demand for local food

Farmers markets are back after a long winter, providing local food to a growing customer base

An AP Member Exchange Feature shared by St. Cloud Times


St. Cloud Times

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - With the traffic of Second Street South curiously passing by, the St. Cloud Area Farmers Market recently kicked off its 30th year.

After moving locations from Bremer Bank to the Lady Slipper Site, a city-owned parking lot on weekdays, market organizers are expecting their busiest year yet.

“It was just getting too crowded,” said St. Cloud Area Farmers Market treasurer Faye Haws, who also helps runs the Bannockburn Farm stand.

“That’s what comes with success - you sort of outgrow your space. We now have more space, good visibility and parking is easier. It’s perfect.”

The increasing popularity of local foods also prompted a location changes for the Avon Farmers Market.

There are 10 farmers markets spread out over five days in Central Minnesota, the St. Cloud Times (https://on.sctimes.com/1m47LzL) reported. The Little Falls market runs twice a week - Wednesdays and Saturdays.

“The term ‘local’ is definitely thrown around more often these days,” said Brian McCann, a vendor from McCann Farm at the Sartell market. “There’s a trend of buying local.”

What has sparked the increased interest?

“I think a big thing is people like knowing where their food comes from,” said Jackie Kitchar, who is the vice president of the St. Cloud Area Farmers Market.

“People like knowing their food is raised locally. People are just much more conscious with food in general nowadays. All of our vendors are committed to bringing the best that they can.”

McCann pointed out that documentaries such as “Food, Inc.” have the public concerned about the food industry.

The government has taken notice, as well.

State government recently relaxed complicated laws about sampling at farmers markets. Customers can expect more free samples this year.

“It is a very positive (legislation),” said Janel Lamp-Wiese, a Smude Sunflower Oil vendor who regularly offers free samples at the Sartell farmers market.

A group crafting the Minnesota Food Charter is expected to release recommendations to lawmakers in October, with a focus on making local foods affordable and accessible for Minnesotans.

In a number of states, including Minnesota, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called food stamps ) can be used at farmers markets. The market in Little Falls is among those authorized to handle SNAP payments.

“There’s more and more organizations working together to bring local food to local people,” said Terri Emmerich, a vendor at the St. Joseph, Sartell and Avon farmers markets. “It’s an encouraging sign.”

Fresh vegetables remain the most popular attraction at farmers markets.

Generally the busiest time is right when the markets open.

“People want that first pick of the produce,” said Keith Schellinger, a St. Cloud Area Farmers Market vendor who sells pure maple syrup.

Because of the long winter, most of the vegetables are behind schedule this year.

But once they start crowding the stands, the Central Minnesota farmers markets are expecting another encouraging selling season.

“We are glad to get it going again,” said Sartell farmers market vendor Ron Neumann of Neumann Farms. “It seems to be growing all the time. The markets were very, very active throughout last year.”

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