Farmers markets opens in Scanlon, MahtowaRain or shine, the Carlton County Farmers Market is open from 9 a.m. until vendors sell out every Saturday, now through mid-October.The Mahtowa Farmers Market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday from June through Sept. 25 next to TJs Country Store, County Road 61 in downtown Mahtowa.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
It may have been overcast, windy and only 54 degrees, but Saturday’s blustery weather didn’t stop Emma Olson, 91, of Esko from setting up shop at the Carlton County Farmers Market. Olson, affectionately labeled “The Bread Lady” by fellow vendors, has been a part of the farmers market since its beginning in 1983. She started out selling strawberries and other produce, but has since expanded to an assortment of breads and rolls.
“You develop a niche and a clientele,” Olson said.
All the vendors agreed The Bread Lady’s loaves are praiseworthy.
“She makes the best bread in the world,” said Carolyn Gilberston, who sells “ribbon-winning original recipe” candy, cookies and other baked goods.
In her dark green “Minnesota Grown” apron, Olson can tell you every ingredient that goes into her breads. She explained that farmers market products come under special laws under the Department of Agriculture. Each of her loaves is made fresh, by hand and there are no preservatives. Her cardamom, or sauna bread, “makes good French toast,” she said.
Farmers markets have been making a comeback across the United States – a trend often referred to as ‘localvore’ or ‘locavore’ – as people have been returning their attention to locally grown and produced foods. All of the products offered at the Carlton County Farmers Market have been grown or made within 50 miles, according to Mike Guite, the market manager.
“Everything is 1,500 miles fresher,” Olson said, noting that farmers markets are the new “in thing.”
Opening weekend of the Carlton Country Farmers Market saw a number of shoppers and a total of six vendors.
These included Jamison Meats of Esko, John Gaus’s maple syrup and honey, Clara Korkala’s breads, pies and jams, Gilbertson’s baked goods, Olson’s breads and Guite’s jams, honeys and spinach. According to Guite, this is the staple bunch of vendors while more will be added throughout the
“It’s a nice group of people,” Gaus said.
Gilbertson has been vending at the market for seven years.
“I enjoy it; I like the people,” she said.
As the summer continues and gardens start to produce more vegetables, the market will see more vendors, Guite said. He is also expecting to see craft vendors, such as wood displays and other handmade goods. Guite himself sells various jellies, jams, honey and spinach. All ingredients are either grown or picked by him and his wife.
The quality of the products is “excellent,” Guite said, “and you get to talk to the person that produced [the product].” Unlike produce you would buy at the grocery store, each vendor is eager to speak with customers about their product.
The prices are also comparable to store-bought products. A loaf of Olson’s cardamom bread cost $3.75 and a jar of Guite’s jam cost $4.50. Maple syrup and honey lollipops are only 50 cents at Gaus’s stand.
While some products might seem a bit steeper than grocery-store brands, there is a lot of time and work invested into each product.
The Carlton County Farmers Market is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to sell-out now through mid-October, and will be open rain or shine. Anyone interested in being a vendor can call Mike Guite at 218-879-9015.
The Carlton County Farmers Market is the only place to find Emma Olson’s homemade breads and, as one excited customer said, “Lucky for us, she’s a good cook.”
If you go
In Cloquet: Rain or shine, the Carlton County Farmers Market is open from 9 a.m. until vendors sell out every Saturday, now through mid-October. The market is located at the junction of Highways 61 and 45 in Scanlon, directly across from the Holiday gas station. Anyone interested in being a vendor can call Mike Guite at 218-879-9015.
In Mahtowa: The Mahtowa Farmers Market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday from June through Sept. 25 next to TJs Country Store, County Road 61 in downtown Mahtowa. Find everything from a petting zoo (most Sundays) plus crafts, baked and canned goods to plants and lots of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Call Tom at TJ’s 218-389-6257.
Photos by Dan Saletel