Minnesota Farmers' Market Association 

Articles / News Releases

February, 2022

More Farmers’ Market Food Hubs Dotting Minnesota’s Local Food Landscape in 2022


Minnesota, February 2022 - A new business opportunity awaits select Minnesota farmers’ markets in 2022 due to a grant that Renewing the Countryside (RTC) was recently awarded by the USDA Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP). Through this grant, 10 farmers’ markets will receive both financial and technical assistance to become licensed farmers’ market food hubs. The farmers’ markets will bring together product from multiple farmers and offer it to larger-scale buyers like grocery stores, restaurants, and institutions supporting food access programs. Farmers’ market growers who don’t have the time, resources, or enough product to sell directly to such buyers, can now work with their market and sell collectively as a food hub in addition to selling directly to farmers’ market customers. 

Joining RTC in administering the grant are the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association (MFMA) and the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA). Key partners in this endeavor are the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA); and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) coordinators who will provide outreach support in the communities where the market hubs are located.

“This LFPP grant builds on the work we’ve done the past five years, piloting this concept of farmers’ markets as food hubs,” said Sara George, RTC project coordinator. “With our earlier grants, we were able to trial online sales platforms that are critical to a hub's success,  test processes for efficiency, and iron out licensing details. This $750K LFPP grant now provides support for three years, 2022-2024, to 10 market hubs, with the end goal to have them fully serving their communities with local food year-round.”

Farmers Annelie and Kevin Livingston-Anderson of Good Turn Farm in Stockholm, WI, have been a part of the Wabasha Farmers’ Market food hub since its inception. “We’ve been really happy with how it has increased our access to new retail and wholesale customers without increasing our marketing labor,” said Annelie. “It also gave us a low risk way to become familiar with using an online sales platform which we have since adopted for our own farm.”

“This is about supporting rural economic development,” said Kathy Zeman, MFMA executive director. “We need to provide more opportunities to get locally grown food into the hands of our communities and provide opportunities for more food partnership for our local farmers. This project does both.”

Laurie and Mark Timm of Fairview Farm in Winona County began selling products through the Wabasha Farmers’ Market online program in 2021. “We realized that COVID was not going away and there were many customers who wanted to be able to source healthy foods locally and safely,” said Laurie. “This program helped us through a challenging year and allowed us to reach new customers including schools, restaurants, and individuals who wanted and needed nutritious foods at their tables. What a great program for the farmer and consumer!”

New market hubs will receive financial support to buy the required startup supplies and equipment, an online sales platform, promotions, training for vendors and buyers, as well as anannual stipend for the hub manager. All participating market hubs will receive specialized financial training from the University of Wisconsin’s Food Finance Institute.  Market hubs, with assistance from SHIP, will find buyers to purchase weekly produce from the market hubs, providing communities with fresh, local produce. 

For more information on this farmers’ market food hub project, visit: https://farmersmarkethub.org, contact RTC’s Sara George at sara@rtcinfo.org, MFMA’s Kathy Zeman at kzeman@mfma.org, or MISA’s Jane Jewett at jewet006@umn.edu

About Renewing the Countryside 

Renewing the Countryside is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide inspiration, ideas and assistance to individuals and communities who are looking for sustainable ways to strengthen their rural communities and reduce poverty. They work to foster the development of sustainable rural communities and landscapes that balance environmental, social, and economic needs.  They also work to educate the larger public of the value of these sustainable rural endeavors to society and the planet and to engage their help in “renewing the countryside.” 

About the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association

The Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association (MFMA) provides services, programs, and leadership that support and promote farmers’ markets across Minnesota. The organization works to foster a community of vibrant, profitable and professionally managed Minnesota farmers’ markets that cultivate, nourish and inspire a vibrant local foods landscape. The MFMA vision is to create greater accessibility to local, farm-fresh foods and to allow opportunities for local food producers to thrive and grow.

About Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture 

The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA)

is a partnership between the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota Extension, and the Sustainers' Coalition. The purpose of The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) is to bring together the diverse interests of the agricultural community with interests from across the University community in a cooperative effort to develop and promote sustainable agriculture in Minnesota and beyond.



BLAZING TRAILS FOOD REGULATIONS TRAININGS SCHEDULED FOR JANUARY AND FEBRUARY


Minnesota, January 2022—Two dates are set for important training in food regulation. “Blazing Trails Through the Jungle of Food Regulations” training is designed to provide access to information and resources on how to navigate food regulations pertaining to local food, to improve our food system.

“Navigating through the confusing world of food regulations can be difficult and frustrating,” says Kathy Zeman, Blazing Trails trainer, direct marketing farmer, and executive director of the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association. “This training provides clear and concise explanations and reasoning for rules and guidelines which govern our food system such as the ‘product of the farm’ exclusion from licensing, the ‘cottage food law’ exemption from licensing, and the differences between MDA and MDH food licenses. Our goal is to simplify the confusion and educate as many people as possible to help move our local food system forward.”

“Figuring out your legal options for operating a food enterprise is really important. Folks in the sustainable ag and local food space are so innovative. We really want to make sure people can put their ideas into practice without having unpleasant surprises later on,” says Jane Jewett, Blazing Trails trainer and associate director of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture.

The half-day trainings are scheduled for 


Registration is $10 and open to anyone with a passion for local farmers and local food who wants additional information on food regulations. Possible attendees include SHIP coordinators, Extension educators, farm group leaders, school board members, school food service directors, economic development staff, public health staff, farmers, restaurant owners, and farmers’ market operators. Anyone is welcome. Registration is now open at: https://www.mfma.org@Events

Blazing Trails is sponsored by the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) and the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association (MFMA). For more information, contact Kim Guenther, MFMA Communications Director at kguenther@mfma.org.

About the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association

The Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association (MFMA) provides services, programs, and leadership that support and promote farmers’ markets across Minnesota. The organization works to foster a community of vibrant, profitable and professionally managed Minnesota farmers’ markets that cultivate, nourish and inspire a vibrant local foods landscape. The MFMA vision is to create greater accessibility to local, farm-fresh foods and to allow opportunities for local food producers to thrive and grow.

About Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture 

The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) is a partnership between the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota Extension, and the Sustainers' Coalition. The purpose of MISA is to bring together the diverse interests of the agricultural community with interests from across the University community in a cooperative effort to develop and promote sustainable agriculture in Minnesota and beyond.


October, 2021

Drought-Stricken Farmers Call for Short-Term Relief & Long-Term Solutions 

Listening Session Highlights Summer’s Heavy Toll on Small & Medium-Sized Vegetable, Fruit & Livestock Producers

The 2021 drought has had a devastating impact on Stearns County farmer Liz Dwyer: her well went dry, vegetable plantings shriveled, livestock had to be butchered early because of lack of hay and the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at her Dancing the Land Farm had to stop deliveries eight weeks early. Yet, when she called her local USDA Farm Service Agency office to find out about drought assistance, Dwyer was told she didn’t qualify because her diversified operation didn’t fit the mold of farms the agency was used to working with.

“The reality is I feed hundreds of people, and yet there’s no support in a year like this, and this is the kind of year that just kills small farms,” she said during a recent drought listening session held by the Land Stewardship Project and the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association.

Other small and medium-sized farmers who raise vegetables, fruit and livestock shared similar stories during the virtual listening session, which was attended by Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Thom Petersen, as well as several state legislators. In many parts of the region, the drought started in the spring and extended throughout the summer. By last month, more than three-quarters of Minnesota was considered to be in “severe” or “extreme” drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Nearly 60 percent of the state’s pastureland is in “very poor” or “poor” condition, according to Petersen.

Listening session participants made it clear that for many farmers, this is an emergency situation requiring immediate assistance. On Sept. 24, Governor Tim Walz announced that he is proposing a $10 million drought assistance package that he would like to be considered at a special session of the Legislature next month. That proposal includes $5 million in grants of up to $5,000 for livestock watering systems and irrigation equipment while also offering $5 million for a zero-interest loan program.

Land Stewardship Project organizer Sarah Goldman said that as a drought relief package is considered in coming weeks, the public needs to push for long-term resiliency planning funding to proactively address extreme weather in future growing seasons.

“Over the past few years, we have seen unprecedented droughts and flooding across the state, and these events have pushed farmers to the brink," she said. "It is time to support farmers in integrating practices that will mitigate some of the most harmful effects of these extreme weather events and ensure those currently on the land can stay farming with adequate relief resources.”

Listening session participants also made it clear that the state needs to address long-term climate change issues if agriculture is to remain viable in the state. University of Minnesota Extension fruit production educator Annie Klodd said her office is dealing with unprecedented climate-related issues such as the need for more irrigation in areas that historically have not required it.

“Climate change is here,” said David Manuel, a farm manager for the Red Lake Nation in northwestern Minnesota. “We need state-mandated climate mitigation action.”

KaZoua Berry, program manager for Big River Farms in Washington County, said policymakers need to take steps to help farmers deal with climate change in the long term by adjusting programs to support small-scale farmers while cutting red tape and providing incentives for consumers to support these farmers at places like farmers’ markets.

“This is the kind of conversation we should have had a decade ago,” she said.

"When lawmakers are considering drought assistance, an emphasis should be placed on small to medium-sized producers who have the kind of operations often left out of mainstream farm program support," said Kathy Zeman, executive director of the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association.

“It’s critical that this relief package is accessible to smaller-scale, diversified farms, those who are renting land, those who are selling good food directly to our communities and ensuring they have the support needed to navigate applying for this aid,” said Zeman.

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The Land Stewardship Project’s mission is to foster an ethic of stewardship for farmland, to promote sustainable agriculture and to develop healthy communities for everyone.

The Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association provides services, programs and leadership that support and promote farmers' markets across Minnesota.

For more information contact:

Sarah Goldman, LSP, sgoldman@landstewardshipproject.org, 612-400-6341
Laura Schreiber, LSP, lschreiber@landstewardshipproject.org, 612-207-4693
Kathy Zeman, MFMA, kzeman@mfma.org, 507-664-9446



MFMA provides services, programs and leadership that support and promote farmers' markets across Minnesota.

Minnesota Farmers' Market Association /// 9800 155th Street East, Nerstrand MN 55053 /// info@mfma.org 

Communications Director: Kim Guenther /// kguenther@mfma.org /// (573) 470-4445 

Economic Opportunities VISTA: Maeve Mallozzi-Kelly /// maeve@mfma.org /// (574) 310-5553

Executive Director: Kathy Zeman /// kzeman@mfma.org /// (507) 664-9446 

       

Copyright MFMA 2022


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