Growing season finally catches up for farmers markets
After a difficult start to the planting season and introducing more days and new locations for Rochester's farmers markets , everything seems to be hitting stride, said market director David Kotsonas.
"The produce is back now, and it's in abundance," he said. "It's finally here."
Among the produce offered Tuesday were tomatoes as big as a grown man's fist and cucumbers the size of forearms. This week marked the first Tuesday market at its new northwest Rochester location at Jim Whiting Nursery , 3430 19th St. N.W. The market had been in the parking lot of Sam's Club, 3410 55th St. N.W.
"Our markets were smaller in the size of vendors and growers, because (they) didn't have the produce they would've normally had," he said. "It was kind of tough."
After weeks of limited options, Kotsonas said, customers can expect summer staples such as tomatoes, sweet corn and berries in greater abundance.
Molly Johnson, for one, said she was happy to see berries finally make it to the farmers' stands.
"The raspberries tasted so juicy," she said.
For Patty Wagner, of Wagner Family Farms, it was only her second week selling at the markets because she waits to have berries before selling. She said she was pleased with the turnout at the new location at Whitings.
"For a new spot, there's quite a bit of traffic," she said."
The Tuesday market is one of several new days added in recent years to the original Saturday downtown market held in a city parking lot near Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue Southeast, where farmers and gardeners within a 50-mile radius of Rochester sell produce, meats and other foods.
New this year is a Thursday market from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the History Center of Olmsted County and a Sunday afternoon market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the downtown location.
Altogether, the four markets reach about 6,000 customers a week, Kotsonas said.
"We totally expanded this year," he said. "What we'd like to do is reach out to different neighborhoods in Rochester and offer them a neighborhood-sized … market."
Dick and Elaine Untiedt made their way to Tuesday's market from Hayfield.
"We're big farmers market people," said Elaine Untiedt. "We love the fresh vegetables … it just tastes better."
For Nick Vanhorn, visiting farmers markets is more about the adventure.
"I like trying to see if there's anything interesting to eat," he said, "different things you can't find in normal grocery stores."