We have gone to the Minneapolis farmers’ market under the freeway bridge near downtown for literally a score of years. The past few years it has become more and more like a fair. Prices have been going up. And worse for me, who is slightly freaked out by crowds, it has become crazy crowded. We also have to park between six or seven blocks away. It’s no big deal to walk in but coming back with several pounds of heavy produce is kind of taxing. We have decided to tour the surrounding cities farmers’ market with the possible goal of moving to one of them during the busiest season, June, July and August. So this Saturday, we went to the Bloomington farmers’ market.
The Bloomington farmers’ market is about the same distance from our house as the Minneapolis farmers’ market, but in the opposite direction. The parking was great. We got there at 9 am and were able to park about a block and a half away. Not too bad. There were three rows of stalls, which is much smaller than the 6-8 double-sided rows in Minneapolis. This meant that there were only about thirty stalls. That being said, we found most of the items we were looking for. My list included: cucumbers, peppers, onions, and eggplant. All of these were easily obtained from a couple of Hmong farmers. One of them also had fairly decent tomatoes and the other some beautiful heirloom yellow carrots.
We did see some duplication from the downtown market, mostly in the area of meat. Tollefson Family Pork had a nice sized stand. Because of the lower amount of people, we really could get right up to them easily and get helped right away. In case you haven’t tried Tollefson’s pork, their ham and bacon are fabulous. The other meat vender that we also see downtown is Blue Gentian farm. They offer a variety of heirloom meat. We bought a beef steak from them. We heard that they will soon be offering goat, one of the few meats that neither of us have tried.
Steve was pleased by the diversity of garlic at this market. There were three farmers selling garlic. One had three different beautiful large varieties. We had never tried the purple striped garlic so we decided to try it.
I have to say that I found the wide aisles very refreshing, and was completely unjostled through the whole experience. There was live music which, while not inspiring, was pleasant. The market sits right by a little lake, so it was picturesque. Many families were sitting on the shores of the lake and lunching.
I missed cheese at the market and there were very few choices of fruit. I really only saw cantaloupe and raspberries. The prices were as high as the downtown market, so value-wise it was no different. The quality was just as high, and since there were fewer stalls or perhaps because of that, there were no really stalls offering lesser quality produce.
Will we go back? Maybe. I found nearly everything on my list but cheese. I loved the ease of going there, but only found one new thing. I may try going back there to see if the stalls turn over and offer new interesting products, or if they are static through the season.