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Carlton County Farmers Market to celebrate 25th year

A local group of gardeners, bakers and crafters has been offering the freshest in produce, products and handcrafts for a quarter of a century in Carlton County.

A local group of gardeners, bakers and crafters has been offering the freshest in produce, products and handcrafts for a quarter of a century in Carlton County.

This summer the Carlton County Farmers Market celebrates its 25th year - and today the appeal of the products the market has to offer is greater than ever before.

In 1983, an interested group of local folks first put their heads together and decided to form an association to provide a local outlet for their products. Officers were elected and the search began for a site.

Many locations for the market were considered, with an eye toward visibility, traffic flow and safety for parking. It was then that George and Charlotte Polo stepped forward and suggested a location next to their store in Scanlon.

With encouragement and assistance from Carlton County Agriculture Agent Dave Radford, along with input from South St. Louis County Agriculture Agent Dick Herman (also a member of the Duluth Farmers Market) and advice from members of the Hibbing Farmers Market, the bylaws were established to get the local farmers market concept off the ground.

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According to the bylaws, vendors participating in the market are to live within a 50-mile radius. The season's opening and closing dates were established in the bylaws as well as the hours of operation.

Over the years since the farmers market first began, an average of 20 to 25 vendors have been active each year, varying from week to week depending on the maturing of vegetables and fruit, and the time of season for honey, syrup and rice production.

Randy Bergh and Emma Olson have been active for the entire 25 years the farmers market has been in existence.

On a regular basis, customers will see the "meat man," "baking ladies," "corn people" and crafters at the market.

All the products offered are the results of each vendor's individual talents. The friendly, hometown atmosphere is "customer-friendly," and vendors will answer questions about any of their products.

The market operates under the guidelines set forth by the State Department of Agriculture. Several laws have been passed, with the assistance of local Representative Mary Murphy, allowing homemade food products to be sold at farmers markets in Minnesota.

Baked goods must bear both the name and address of the vendor as well as a message stating, "Home baked, not subject to inspection," which must be easily visible to the customer. The same rules apply to pickles, with the addition of the date of processing.

Present officers of the Carlton County Farmers Market include: Mike Little, president; Carolyn Warner Gilbertson, secretary; Randy Bergh, treasurer; Mike Guite, market master; and Emma Olson, publicity.

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The Carlton County Farmers Market is open each Saturday morning beginning at 9 a.m. and goes until all products have been sold.

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