Farmers market puts the fresh in foodHere’s a hint for anyone heading to the Carlton County Farmer’s Market in Scanlon Saturday morning: Get there early.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Here’s a hint for anyone heading to the Carlton County Farmer’s Market in Scanlon Saturday morning: Get there early.
While the bell rings at 9 a.m., vendor and market webmaster Elise Rieschl said the smartest customers get there 15 to 30 minutes before the market opens.
“A lot of the regulars come early and walk around first so they know what’s there,” Rieschl said. “Then they know where they want to be when the bell rings.”
Rieschl compared the first 15 minutes of the market to “a sharks’ feeding frenzy.”
“The first 15 minutes are pretty hectic,” she said.
Thus, it’s best to get there early and do some reconnaissance, otherwise those freshly picked raspberries you’ve been craving might be sold out already.
In honor of National Farmers Market Week, the market in Scanlon is holding a drawing for a gift basket to be given away after the market closes at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3. To sign up, simply go to the market and fill out a slip to enter.
Rieschl is expecting more produce at this weekend’s market than last weekend’s event, which took place in near-50-degree weather. In fact, she noted that a late spring and variable weather this summer have delayed the growing season for those who don’t grow in greenhouses.
There’s still plenty of produce -- including pea pods, green beans, chard, black currants, raspberries, zucchini and more -- in addition to a variety of things made from that produce (strawberry/jalapeno jam anyone?).
Last weekend Gene Bryant sold fresh vegetables and some spectacular lilies. Tim Riley drove in from Gary New Duluth to set up his pottery. Mike and Joyce Salzer drove in from Barnum to sell their frozen chicken. Promise Land Farms, Golden Gardens and G&G Wagner all offered a variety of colorful, fresh veggies, some jams and jellies as well as fresh cut flowers.
Of course, 93-year-old vendor Emma Olson was also there.
Esko’s Olson has been selling at the Carlton County Farmers Market since its beginning, close to 30 years ago. Affectionately labeled “The Bread Lady” by fellow vendors, Olson started out selling strawberries and other produce, but has since expanded to an assortment of breads and rolls.
At 15 years, Mark and Bobbie Follett are also longtime vendors at the market. When asked what kinds of things they like to grow, the answer is “a little bit of everything.”
“We have a lot of your standard veggies, but we like to try something new every year,” Bobbie said, noting that new additions this year are pak choi, white cucumbers, lima beans, brokali (a cross between broccoli and kale), soybeans, asparagus, eggplant and muskmelon. They also sell African violets and planned to create their own herbal teas this year.
Still, it’s not your grandma’s farmers market. For starters, the Carlton County Farmers Market now accepts both credit cards and EBT (electronic benefits transfer) cards for food purchases. Blue Cross/Blue Shield offers EBT participants a dollar for dollar match on a $5 purchase.
“I used food stamps as a young single mother,” said Bobbie Follett, who handles all the EBT and credit transactions at the market, issuing tokens for customers to then spend at the individual stalls. “We are fortunate to live in a society that helps people meet their basic needs.”
When asked why people benefit from shopping at a farmers market rather than a grocery store, Rieschl points out the obvious first.
“Farmers market produce is fresher,” she said. “It’s usually picked that morning or the evening before. Plus, I’d say prices are comparable to the grocery store for what you’re getting. And you are supporting people who are working really hard to bring fresh food to the market.”