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Locally fresh

A few hardy locals showed up at the first Carlton County Farmers Market of the year in Cloquet the morning of Saturday, June 2. Shortly after vendors were ready, the skies unleashed and poured buckets of rain. Several people braved the blustery w...

Brightly colored flowers are some of the wares offered at the Carlton County Farmers Market at the Premiere Theatres 6 parking lot in Cloquet. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal
Brightly colored flowers are some of the wares offered at the Carlton County Farmers Market at the Premiere Theatres 6 parking lot in Cloquet. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal

A few hardy locals showed up at the first Carlton County Farmers Market of the year in Cloquet the morning of Saturday, June 2.

Shortly after vendors were ready, the skies unleashed and poured buckets of rain.

Several people braved the blustery weather to check out the fresh produce at the 10 vendors who optimistically showed up.

The potted plants and seedlings perked up with the watering. Droplets dripped from colorful pansies and marigolds as they danced merrily in the gusting winds. Stacks of baked goods such as breads and cookies were displayed on tables, as were homemade blueberry and other jams. Homemade pottery was set out in case customers showed up ready to buy a mug or bowl.

Fresh, crisp lettuce and radishes and other greens were lined neatly on several tables waiting for customers.

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A few brightly colored umbrellas popped out like spring flowers as children accompanied their parents to see what was available.

Sisters Sonay, 10, and Amira Nick, 6, were visiting the market for the first time. Their mother said they wanted something to do and she didn't believe it was going to rain so hard.

The girls stopped by the Carlton County Extension table, where Liz McLaughlin had free squash plants, seeds and a coloring contest for kids. They made their selections before heading off under the protection of their big purple and gold umbrella.

McLaughlin explained they are promoting "one vegetable, one community" at area farmers markets to encourage people to eat healthier. This year, the featured vegetable is squash.

They will also be offering classes on how to grow and cook squash as well as a contest for largest squash at the Cloquet Community Garden. For more information, email Liz at the Extension office at emclaugh@umn.edu .

Gabe Dusek, 10, walked from vendor to vendor under the cover of his bright umbrella as his father, Jason Dusek, huddled into his hooded sweatshirt and carried a bag full of goodies he had purchased.

"We have a hobby. We grow all kinds of different things every year. I have about 40 sugar-snap peas and 10 bean plants right now," the elder Dusek said. "The boys really get into it."

He said if his sons want a snack, they make a salad from the garden bounty. He planted 30 feet of the peas so they can keep producing as the family eats them all summer. Dusek describes the garden as his "zen" space.

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They have even learned to like the spiders that call the garden home.

"I have spiderwebs that grow all along my sugar-snap peas," Dusek explained. "We don't bother the spiders because they eat the bugs that eat the plants. Spiders don't eat plants - just bugs."

Dusek built an irrigation system for his garden that will not destroy the delicate webs.

He likes to support the local vendors at the farmers market. He said he found one who grows tomato plants he is so happy with that he no longer grows his own but buys the plants.

Terry Sharkey has been baking healthy goods for many years. The last two years, she has been selling gluten-free goodies. Instead of using refined white sugar, Sharkey adds maple sugar, maple syrup or honey.

Sharkey offers a variety of goods, from peanut butter sandwich cookies to paleo cranberry orange bread and pumpkin spice bread, doughnut holes and more.

She said her biggest sellers are the orange and lemon sugar cookies.

Another top seller is not gluten-free, but is popular around the local Finnish community: Finnish pulla bread, also known as braided cardamom bread.

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"My neighbor stopped by before I was set up this morning to buy a loaf for her mom. She was going to visit her at Sunnyside," Sharkey said.

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