Residents will soon be able to stroll the stalls at the Cannon Falls Downtown Farmers Market when it begins again on June 5.
The farmers market has been a summer staple for 40 years. Offering a wide selection of fresh vegetables and fruit, along with canned and baked goods the market happens 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday from June until the end of October in the city parking lot by Sue's Garage.
“You’re getting a better tasting vegetable when you buy locally,” said Cannon Falls Downtown Farmers Market vendor Tim Mahle. “I think it’s benefiting the community in terms of really quality produce, versus something that has been shipped and sitting on the shelf for five days.”
In April, the Cannon Falls Downtown Farmers Market was almost moved from downtown. After a campaign by the market, city council unanimously decided to keep the weekly event in town. The market will be in the city parking lot near Sue’s Garage after Mayor John Althoff talked to businesses in the area who said they would be willing to try it.
“We were very excited,” Mahle said. “It was a hard struggle all last year. I attended quite a few city council meetings to lobby for us to stay downtown. We had a number of city council members that were in support of us keeping our tradition going.”
This year the farmers market is trying something new. They will be participating in a program known as the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program along with the Women, Infants and Children Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, which when combined are known as S/FMNP. This program provides low income individuals with the means to purchase locally grown produce, honey and herbs from authorized vendors.
“We’re going to be the only market in town participating in that program offered by the state of Minnesota,” Mahle said. “A number of us vendors participate in the Northfield market and they also participate in the program, and we’ve noticed it helps lower income people have the opportunity to receive vegetables. We thought it would be a good program to provide over here.”
All of the vendors that were present at last year’s market will be coming back. Vang's Produce,Sogn Valley Orchard, Josephson/FFA,Twin Oaks Orchard,Ye Olde Farm, which all qualify as S/FMNP vendors, and Ruthie’s Kitchen will also be set up and selling their goods every Saturday. There is also the possibility of a few more new vendors joining the ranks, but no word on who they will be or what they will be selling.
“We heard some talk that some of the vendors from the Artisan Plaza market might be coming over but we haven't gotten any confirmation on that yet,” Mahle said. “I was trying to reach out recently to see where they stand on if they were going to come back to the market or stay down there. I still don't have anything concrete on that yet. We’re hoping a couple will come back.”
The farmers market saw a boost of activity during 2020. Mahle attributes the spike in business to people getting outside due to the pandemic.
“We had a really good year,” Mahle said. “The increase of activity with the bike trail I believe helped, along with a lot of people, due to corona, were outside instead of indoors due to restrictions. Our business was really good.”
“I mostly enjoy the interaction with the customers and getting their feedback on what they like and what they dislike and trying to adjust based on those needs,” Mahle said. “It's the working with the people and that comradery you get from people to people interaction and sales.”