Farmers marketNutrition stories:

Growers, one and all

The Rochester Downtown Farmers Market dazzles the senses. There’s a lot to see. Lots to do. Lots of people to talk to. And of course, lots and lots of great food to enjoy. But if you step back and take in the full sweep of this local gathering and others like it, you realize something: community health has deep roots at the farmers market.

“Healthy and close to home”

The Rochester market is unique because it’s a growers market. That means the people who sell the food grow the food (or prepare it, for example, in the case of baked goods and other hand-made items). Current membership guidelines require that all growers live in Minnesota within 50 miles of Rochester. Today, there are more than 90 growers on the summer roster and nearly 30 in the winter.

Margo Warthesen is a long-time member of the market. Her farm is Many Hands Farm, and Margo was one of the first four farmers when the Rochester market began nearly 30 years ago. Explaining the significance of the market, she states, “Every day we put a fork in our mouth, and we get to make choices about the food we eat and who grows it.” And what does it take to make those choices? Knowledge. Hands-on experience. Brian Peterson of Green Leaf Gardens says, “We like to be able to tell our customers how something was grown, why, where and how to use it. For home gardeners, we’re a source for that kind of information as well. Thinking about planting hard-necked garlic? I can share a tip or two.”

Farmers, then, are just some of the growers at the market. Customers are growing too – gaining knowledge, building relationships, strengthening local ties. The health of a community improves when making the healthy choice is the easy choice, and the Rochester Downtown Farmers Market along with others nearby and nationwide adds an important dimension in achieving this goal. Here, the healthy choice isn’t just the easy choice. It’s delicious, too. And comes from someone you know.

Updated Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 11:18AM