If you didn’t attend the farmers’ market, did the summer season really happen? Perhaps, but it probably was less memorable (and less flavorful) than it would have been if you had. Farmers’ markets have become a rite in warmer months in Minnesota, and the Excelsior Farmers’ Market is one of our favorites. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the vendors—and their splendors—we think you should check out this year.
Oak Valley Creations
Owner Debbie Fairbanks grew up as the eldest of six siblings in a home that celebrated homemaking and making things from scratch. Before organic was a buzzword, it was a part of her life. She has now brought her love and knowledge of organics to her products at Oak Valley Creations. Debbie offers products that marry spice with fresh flavor. Try the organic dip mixes that can be mixed with sour cream or Greek yogurt for an instant snack upgrader. For wine lovers, there are six flavors of vino-infused jelly to try. $3.95–$11
Long Siding Farm
Arlan Koppendrayer grew up on a dairy farm and is continuing his family’s tradition with his own Long Siding Farm an hour north of the Twin Cities. It’s the breeding ground for a dazzling selection of all the fresh foods you’re itching to throw on your grill—and the farm is USDA certified organic. Mixed greens, asparagus, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes and melons all greet the summer at the Excelsior Farmers’ Market. And don’t forget the strawberries—at $4 a pint, they’re the best way to celebrate the season. 50 cents–$4
Summer’s in full bloom, and Windland Fields grows thousands of perennials and herbs every year that are featured at the market. The farm’s the brainchild of two sisters, Sarah and Katie Windland, who graduated with degrees in horticulture from the University of Minnesota. Their expertise makes them the go-to source for consultations in landscape and garden design and maintenace. Every week there’s a new featured perennial for $5; be sure to check the Windland Fields Facebook page to scope out the latest one. $2–$35
Rusty Nail Woodcraft
Ben Pawlak has been a self-employed cabinetmaker in the Lake Minnetonka area for 30 years. Though his talents also show in his custom residential remodeling, his magic shines through in the smaller pieces that are available at the farmers’ market. Everyday items like ice cream scoops and pizza cutters become objects of beauty in the hands of Pawlak, and pieces like wood-slab clocks, coasters and cribbage boards are also available. The true showstoppers? The cutting boards, carved to perfection so you can chop with ease. $3–$100
Native Oaks Farm
Sometimes it’s hard to think about eating a cute little lamb, but with top-notch humane farms like Native Oaks, you can have peace of mind. The Native Oaks Farm lambs are raised in expansive pastures and allowed to graze freely on a variety of grasses in the warm seasons, and feed on hay and a small amount of grain during the winter when the pastures are frozen. At the Excelsior farmers’ market, Native Oaks offers many different frozen cuts—everything from riblets to racks. The mutton they offer is full of flavor and begs to be made into a delicious stew when the weather begins to turn. $2.50–$23
Excelsior Farmers' Market
Tuesdays 2-6 p.m., May through October
Water Street between Second and Third streets; excelsiorfarmersmarket.com
Enough Market to Go Around
The Lake Minnetonka area is serious about farmers’ markets. Try a week-long “tour de markets” and load up on all the fresh goods our area has to offer:
This smaller market hangs in there with the big dogs. An eclectic mix of goods can be found here—this may be the only time that jewelry, black beans and hot sauce can be relevant in the same sentence. And don’t forget to head to Music in the Park right after you check all those off your list.
Tuesdays 3–7 p.m., June 30–September 29
Civic Center Campus, 14600 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; eminnetonka.com
Veggies, fresh fruit and Fido, too? Of course! This farmers’ market welcomes dogs. Just be sure to keep an eye on them; delicious jams, salsas and fresh veggies are everywhere you turn.
May 16–October, Saturdays 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
5515 Shoreline Drive, Mound; firstname.lastname@example.org
If savory’s your thing, you’ll want to be here. If sweet’s your thing, you’ll want to be here. From artisan breads and free-range meats to bakery treats and organic honey, it’s heaven for the hungry.
June 20–October 31, Saturdays 7:30 a.m.–noon
Ninth Avenue a half-block south of the Mainstreet clock tower, Hopkins; hopkinsfarmersmarket.com