Fresh and Local

Get to know the farmers and bakers who produce your food.

Nothing says summer like a farmers market. Sunshine and fresh air invigorate shoppers and vendors alike, creating a picture-perfect setting for fresh, locally grown produce, foods and flowers, and for enjoying live music and entertainment.

Fruits and Veggies

Terry Picha, who helped start the Minnetonka Farmers Market eight years ago, says two main factors make the market a special place for shopping: its size and its products.

“It’s a small market where customers can get to know the vendors—who grows their food and how and where it’s grown,” Picha says. Picha Greenhouse and Farms is best known for its raspberries and tomatoes. The local area used to be a huge hub for raspberry production, says Picha, who grew up on his family farm. But as farmland was developed, and expenses and risks drove more farmers to other lines of work, raspberries have become a much less common crop. “Now we’re about the only one left,” he says. Picha’s booth also sells a wide range of vegetables including cucumbers, eggplants, all kinds of squash, potatoes and sweet potatoes. A lot of it is chemical free, though not certified organic.

Get Crackin’

Dale Plekkenpol of Dale’s Delicious Eggs started his business selling 13 dozen eggs a week at the market. His eggs are so popular that he now sells up to 100 dozen weekly.

“The chickens are free-range, running around outside eating bugs and grass, so the yolks are really dark orange and people just love the taste of them,” Plekkenpol says. “They’re better than most eggs that you get in town.” Plekkenpol also makes biweekly home deliveries during the market’s off-season.

Besides eggs, Plekkenpol also sells birdhouses, cutting boards, dryer balls made from alpaca hair, and various toys and crafts. On top of that, he makes and sells jams, including strawberry, peach and blueberry.

Fresh-Baked Breads

Joachim Berndt, who goes by Aki, owns Aki’s Bread Haus in Northeast Minneapolis. Berndt is entering his fourth year as a farmers market vendor. He has a loyal following for his fresh bread and pretzels; a product line Berndt says you can’t get anywhere else in the Twin Cities—from semolina to 100
percent rye bread.

“We don’t use a lot of sweeteners. Bread, in my mind, should be neutral—like white bread you can eat with peanut butter and jelly, or cheese and meat, or whatever," says Berndt. Most of his breads are also vegan, he notes.

Picha, who remembers when Minneapolis hosted the only farmers market in the Twin Cities, says there are now 42 in the metro area. “I think farmers markets generally are a win-win situation for the grower and customer. There’s no middle man, and we offer far lower rates.  We have a very nice, viable market in Minnetonka … it’s a small enough market so it’s not impersonal.”

The Minnetonka Farmers Market runs every Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m., June 13 through Sept. 26 (no market on July 4) at the Minnetonka Civic Center Campus Ice Arena B parking lot at 14600 Minnetonka Blvd.