The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 17, 2013

Farmers' Market making trial run in winter months

By Tim Krohn
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — The folks at the Mankato Farmers’ Market decided cold winter shouldn’t stop people from enjoying some fresh garden greens, potatoes and other market fare.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, the market vendors will set up inside Drummers Garden Center and Floral greenhouse.

Joe Domeier, market manager, said this is the first year they’ve had winter markets. He said montly markets in November and December were well received.

“There were a lot more customers than we expected. We may do another one in February, depending on what vendors have left.”

He said there will be some greenhouse vegetables, potatoes, onions and fall squash available, as well as a meat vendor with pasture-raised chicken and pork and most of the artisan and crafts people who regularly set up at the Farmers’ Market.

Domeier said that the high interest in the winter market will probably lead more vendors to use greenhouses or garden tunnels to extend their growing season next year.

He said more gardeners are using “high tunnels” — tunnels created with plastic placed over hoops in a garden — to extend the growing season. While the unheated tunnels can’t withstand long, hard freezes, they help. “More people are doing it and the warmer falls we’ve had helped. Spinach, broccoli, cabbage — that kind of stuff — can take some frost,” he said.

“Some vendors have pretty big operations and they’ve invested in greenhouses.” The greenhouses, he said, not only allow them to grow things later into the year but let them get an early jump on spring.

 “Some will be starting to plant tomatoes and peppers before long. That’s a big deal at the market, to be the first one with tomatoes and stuff. They sell real well.”