Farmers Market entices a crowd
If you sell it, they will come.
The Veterans Park west parking lot was full of activity last Thursday with 14 vendors and a large turnout of customers.
"This is the best we've had for vendors in the three years we've had Farmers Market," said Jenny Buysse, who is the coordinator of the weekly event. "I'm very happy with the variety of vendors and the growth of the customers from last week to this week."
Vendors were selling fresh produce, baked goods, honey, canned products, pre-packaged products, handmade crafts, snacks, wood signs and more. The thing that makes this Farmers Market different than most is that vendors do not have to pay a vendor fee, nor do they have to pre-register. They can set up any Thursday they want and sell their products. New vendors are filtered in among the regular vendors each week."It's nice to come here each week and buy some things and visit with some of the people here," said one woman. "The prices on everything are very reasonable and all the produce is really fresh."
The Farmers Market is held from 5-7 p.m. every Thursday.
"We will continue as long as weather permits," Buysse noted.
The can man
Standing behind one of the vendors tables with several filled canning jars filled with green beans, peppers, salsa, pizza sauce and varieties of pickles, was Minneota golf coach Walker Hennen.
Seems Walker and his brother Trent work a 1,000 square-foot garden together on Trent's property outside of Minneota.
Among the vegetables they have in the garden are tomatoes, peppers, green beans, kohlrabi, spaghetti squash, pumpkins, carrots, peas, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini.
"We planned to have this big garden and then try canning some of the things," said Walker, who teaches fifth and sixth grade math and social studies in Ivanhoe.
Once their garden was producing, the Hennens visited the Farmers Market in Minneota in July to check things out.
"We wanted to see what things people were selling and what prices they were charging," he said. "We had never done this before and we didn't want to over-price and we didn't want to under-price either."
Walker's mother-in-law, Laurie Laleman, was instrumental in teaching him how to make salsa with the many tomatoes they had on hand.
Typically, you see more women than men selling their own canned vegetables, but the Hennens have done themselves proud.
"I haven't really had any problems yet," Walker smiled. "All the lids have sealed for me so far. The biggest thing is finding the time to can."
The five children of Chris and Jessica Swedzinksi had a hand in the Farmers Market last week. Three of the children, Winifred, 11; Hildy, 10; and Harry, 6; were all vendors. Adeline, 8, and Crosby, 3, were also available to help.
Winifred hand-makes copper-plated and aluminum rings, using materials from her father's welding crafts. She orders the stones that go on the rings.
"Those are beautiful," said one woman. "Did you really make them yourself?"
Winifred, who also sole hand-printed cars, smiled and shook her head as if to say "yes".
Hildy was selling cornstalk displays for fall and Halloween. Harry sold eggs from the 16 chickens he tends to on the farm.
"When Chris would do shows, he would usually take one or two of the kids with him," said Jessica. "That's how they got the interest to make things to sell."