Top 10 farmers markets in the Twin Cities

One of the thrills of living in Minnesota in the summertime, apart from the fact that the chance of snow is quite slight, is the delight of freshly picked peas, beans, tomatoes, corn and other vegetables and fruit. Be it from your own garden, the back of a farmer's pickup truck, or at one of the dozens of fresh farmers' markets around the Twin Cities, there are few delights quite like it. Finding farmers' markets isn't that tough, but here is a handy guide to some of the best in the region.


10. Hopkins Farmers Market

Hopkins honors its agricultural roots every Saturday from mid-June through October with its market. The key for the western-suburban community is to gather vendors who have a direct connection to the wares they are selling, from in-season produce to various crafts. The food items run the gamut, from fresh vegetables and fruits to eggs and meat. Crafts are here to buy or browse, and the market is located on Hopkins's main drag, so there's more chances to explore, such as visiting the galleries at the nearby Hopkins Center for the Arts. (16 Ninth Ave S, Hopkins; 952.583.3585)

9. Northeast Farmers Market

Northeast Minneapolis is a happening part of the Twin Cities, and the farmers' market is no different. Every Saturday from June through October you will find a bevy of vendors at Seventh and University ready to offer fresh goods and the other delectables, from artisan ice cream to fresh caramel corn. Oh, and there are other distractions as well. The Nordeast Brewers Alliance is always on hand for demonstrations, while regular entertainment and special events are part of the experience as well. It doesn't end in October either. The market moves indoors during the off-season for monthly gatherings at the East Side Co-op. (Seventh and University Ave NE)


8. Centennial Lakes Farmers Market

A trip to this Edina-based farmers' market has more to offer than goods from several dozen vendors. The park itself is part of the charm, as you can escape into its 24-acre landscape, visit the lake, travel the paths, and generally get a taste of nature before returning to the rat race. This younger (it started in 2010) market is still growing but features a mix of fresh-produce vendors from around the area and an assortment of ready-to-eat edibles, from pizza to pork chops to hot dogs. All perfect for a day in the sun in the Twin Cities. (Centennial Lakes Park, Edina; 952.833.9582)

7. Maple Grove Farmers Market

Every Thursday from June to October, the parking lot at the Maple Grove Community Center becomes a veritable paradise for those in the north metro looking for crisp vegetables, sweet and juicy fruits, and unique culinary finds. The market brings in more than 50 vendors each week, offering plenty of inspiration for your upcoming meals. If you need more, there are chef demonstrations and recipes to provide ideas and tips for in-season products. There's even a frequent-visitor's card, which gives those who make at least five visits during the season a small gift certificate to use on a later visit. If you need more, music is provided most weeks, and there's a children's story time every Thursday at 4:30. (12951 Weaver Lake Road, Maple Grove; 763.494.5955)

6. Richfield Farmers Market

Visitors and residents of the south metro have used the Richfield Farmers Market as an alternative to the Minneapolis and St. Paul editions since 1990, and it has grown to become a large alternative to its big-city sisters. The Saturday market, which runs through October, is joined by a Wednesday market at the Church of Assumption parking lot through August. The growers market features fresh-picked produce from no more than 200 miles from Richfield, and at least 80 percent are from farms in Minnesota. There is also an assortment of products for sale, such as fresh breads, honey, and gifts. Other entertainment, like live music, is also a part of the activities. (6400 Portland Ave., Richfield; 612.861.9362)

5. Midtown Farmers Market

Over the past several years, the Midtown Farmer's Market has grown up with the Hiawatha light rail transit hub on Lake Street and 22nd Avenue in Minneapolis. Open Saturdays until 1 p.m. and Tuesday afternoons from 3 to 7 p.m. from May to October each season, the market features more than 80 local vendors selling seasonal fruits and vegetables, along with the occasional surprise. These goods come from local and regional vendors, providing a wide range of produce, meats, and other fresh-from-the-field items. There are also representatives from artisan bakeries, unique artistic creations, and delights throughout the grounds. Musical entertainment also comes with the show, with the likes of the Mississippi Mud Steppers or Folk 'n' Thieves providing additional attractions to your morning or afternoon in the Minneapolis air. The light rail hub means that getting to and leaving the market is a snap, be it by bike, bus, car, or train. (Lake Street and 22nd Avenue South; 612.724.7457)

4. Mill City Farmers Market

Since 2006, the Mill City Farmers' Market, founded by Brenda Langton, Spoonriver's long-revered chef, has offered fresh goods to riverside visitors to the Chicago Mall between Spoonriver and the Guthrie Theater every Saturday morning from May to October. Here's where you can get a taste of seasonal produce like arugula, rhubarb, radishes, spring mix, and pea shoots, plus early flowers and plenty of bedding plants. There's also a seedling-planting activity, featured Art Market participants displaying their wares, and free reusable grocery bags, not to mention all the vendors of non-edibles, who can offer everything from unique clothing to Native American art. (704 S. Second St., Minneapolis; 612.341.7580)

3. Kingfield Farmers Market

Since 2001, the Kingfield Farmers Market has managed to pack an amazing amount of local culinary raw material into one small parking lot every Sunday, spring, summer, and fall. A testament to the endless energy and efforts of David Brauer and his posse of die-hard volunteers, the collective effect at Kingfield is that you can't help but fall into conversation with the folks who grow the food you plan to sauté, steam, slice, and dice, thus adding a distinctly personal touch to what you put on the table. That could be goods bought from Swede Lake Farm, which not only has tomatoes and potatoes but also Minnesota-grown garlic. Or maybe you want some fresh fruit from one of the several orchards at the market, or to check out artisan breads or craft-made pickles. There's often a jug band playing, local chefs offering al fresco cooking lessons, and local artisans at work. (4310 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis; 612.207.7893)

2. Minneapolis Farmers Market

The Minneapolis Farmers Market is actually several in one, including the weekly gatherings downtown. Its most popular location, however, is the one on Lyndale. Some farmers' markets are fancier. Some have tighter restrictions on non-local produce. Some have more upscale food trucks. But none can compete with the Minneapolis Farmers Market when it comes to selection. For starters, the Lyndale Market is open seven days a week May through October, which means you don't need to anticipate the whole week's fresh produce needs on Saturday morning. For those hardy souls who not only buy organic but also grow their own, there's no place in town that compares to the selection of seedlings and transplants at the Lyndale Market in the spring and early summer. The adjacent (but separately owned and operated) Farmers Market Annex offers everything from clothes to handmade artisan jewelry, accessories, garden art, and freshly cut flowers. On weekend mornings, the energy at the Lyndale Market rivals that of the State Fair, complete with families enjoying brats and sweet corn as they roam the iconic red-roofed sheds. Parking can be an adventure, but it just goes to show how popular this farmers' market is, with good reason. (Various locations in Minneapolis; 612.333.1718)

1. St. Paul Farmers Market

Like Minneapolis, the St. Paul Farmers Market is actually several markets in one. While the one in Lowertown gets most of the love, other locations are spread throughout the city. Its main location in Lowertown (open Saturdays and Sundays from late April through most of November) offers ample charm, and amenities like coffee shops and a park are just steps away. The market has plenty of free parking, both on the street and in several lots (though this summer presents some traveling challenges owing to light rail construction). The market operates satellite locations on other days of the week all over St. Paul and a few suburbs. In the more abundant seasons the market is truly beautiful, filled with bright flowers, colorful vegetables, and smiling faces. And you can be sure that everything you buy from the St. Paul Farmers' Market was grown locally. The market even continues beyond summer and fall, staying open weekly almost all year round. Hardy local farmers drive their trucks into the city and stand outside for four hours every Saturday, even in the coldest weather, to provide us city folk with high-quality bacon, bison steaks, legs of lamb, eggs, and more. (Various locations in St. Paul and the metro area; 651.227.8101)

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