Remember when that couple in Portlandia tracks down the exact origins -- and name -- of the chicken they order at a restaurant? Mill City is that kind of farmers market, one where customers want to know the name and life story of their poultry (and sometimes produce) and the vendors are eager to share.
Where it is: 704 2nd St. S., Minneapolis
Day of the week/hours: Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. through October 25
Vendors of note: Chef Shack, Salty Tart, Shepherd's Way Farms, Star Prairie Trout Farm, Loon Organics, Zula Juice, Bliss Granola
Market features: An array of pastries and sumptuous small bites beckons visitors into the market, but doesn't overshadow the who's who of local produce and crafts purveyors. Live music and cooking demos round out the mix.
The market's main promenade is dotted with vendors hawking plants for the first month of the market, but once midsummer rolls around, resplendent organic and heirloom produce will take center stage.
The walkway under the mill's eaves is filled with chocolate (from French Nugget and St. Croix Chocolate) and cheese (including Icelandic sheep's milk cheese from Star Thrower Farm), a juice bar and a juice company, and local home goods ranging from wooden cutting boards to soap.
Mill City Farmers Market founder Brenda Langton brings her Crepes by Spoonriver, a savory mid-morning breakfast, and the momos provided by Gorkha Palace add a kick of spice to shopping. Verdant Tea will satiate your drink yen and offer kombucha along with the usual array of herbal drinks.
Market vibe: Mill City caters to customers ages 8 to 80. It's a neighborhood market for many, but suburban visitors use it to kick off a day in the city, and early-rising college students stroll the market while chowing down on pastries. Families pick up meat, salad greens, and dessert for a weekend get-together, while a small portion of visitors knock out their weekly grocery shopping.
Last thought: The Mill City Farmers Market is a showcase of the local food scene. Large crowds and fresh foods, handmade or handpicked, are incentive to get out of bed on Saturday morning. Founded by Langton in 2006, Mill City features diverse food and craft artisans that set it apart from larger farmers markets offering endless rows of the same five vegetables.