Opening on one of the warmest weather days in November so far, the Northeast Winter Farmer’s Market attracted a crowd of people eager to shop outside. The market, which used to be held inside the Solar Arts by Chowgirls building (711 NE 15th Ave) pre-COVID-19, was moved outside to the St. Boniface Church (629 NE 2nd St.) parking lot for the remainder of the winter market season to allow for more space and social distancing.
Many of the attendees expressed excitement, as the opening of the market happened shortly after the election results were released by the media on 11/7. Brook Ross, a Northeast Farmer’s Market frequent customer, expressed excitement to be out in the community on Saturday after the announcement.
“I love winter markets,” said Ross. “They are a great way for everyone to get together, especially on a day like today after what just happened [election results]. What a great time to go to something like this where there are other like-minded people.”
Since the changes to outdoor shopping back in March, some market attendees continue to attend every week to support local business and create new routines. “I bring my daughter here every week,” said Will Davis (they are pictured on front cover). “She loves it here and asks to go to the market every Friday. She knows the honey people and they always give her a free honey stick. We’ve been doing it all year. It’s been our daddy-and-daughter Saturday morning tradition.”
Vendors expressed excitement to sell goods outside and endure the upcoming chilly temperatures. Gabi Pontaza, who was at the market representing Cafe Palmira, has sold coffee at the Northeast Farmer’s Market for two years. “This is a great market,” said Pontaza. “We are happy to do this first winter market with the winter temperatures. Since everyone is at home, it has been a good year for coffee.”
The market, which was also open over the summer months, uses COVID-19 safety guidelines based on the recommendations of the Minnesota Department of Health, the city, local farmer’s market managers, and the Minnesota Farmers Market Association (MFMA).
“We are continuing all of our COVID guidelines because as you know, cases are not going down,” said Sarah Knoss, Northeast Farmers Market Manager. “We plan on continuing COVID guidelines through the entire 2021 year. That’s what we are going to plan for, and obviously we can shift if and when things change, but for now people must wear a mask, socially distance, and wash hands at the entrance.”
Although food cannot be consumed on-site, there are three vendors selling food to-go, and coffee for sale with a designated drinking area. With all of the changes, Knoss is looking forward to the season after the success of the summer market utilizing COVID-19 safety precautions. “Although the customer count was down by half, the people that came out shopped,” said Knoss. “They [customers] came with intent to buy products. New guidelines or not, it was very successful. The browsers weren’t here, it was the people that came to buy. It really showed the dedication of our customers.”
The winter market is open first Saturday of every month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. through April 2021. More information can be found at the market website: https://www.northeastfarmersmarket.com. More information about COVID-19 practices amongst all markets can be found at: farmersmarketsofmpls.org.
Other winter markets
The Mill City Farmers Market, 750 South 2nd St., is open on different weekends from the Northeast market, featuring more than 30 farmers and makers select Saturdays, Nov. 14 and 21, Dec. 12, Jan. 9, Feb. 13, March 13 and 27, and April 10 and 24, 10 am-noon, millcityfarmersmarket.org. They are part indoors and part outdoors.
The Municipal Minneapolis Farmers Market, 312 Lyndale Ave. E., the largest open-air farmers’ market in the Midwest, is open every Saturday and Sunday, 9 am-noon, through April 25, mplsfarmersmarket.com.
Offerings vary by location, but during the winter season, shoppers can expect to find humanely raised meats and poultry, cheese and other dairy products, root veggies, greens, honey, jams, baked goods, salsa, eggs, and many other products from local farmers and food makers. Several locations will sell fresh-cut Christmas trees and other festive décor.
Each market is participating in the Farmers Markets of MPLS Winter Clothing Drive. Shoppers can donate handmade or store-bought hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, boots, socks, and coats of all sizes, for adults and children. All markets practice stringent COVID-19 protocols to ensure a safe experience for shoppers, growers and staff, and some offer online pre-ordering and pre-payment for a contact-free shopping experience. General info: farmersmarketsofmpls.org/winter-markets.
Below: Scenes from the warmest winter market day imaginable. (Photos by Mike Madison)