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Our Fine Farmers Markets Before Opening Weekend: The Kingfield Edition

The already successful Kingfield Farmers Market has its season opener on May 22, 2011. Here's some history and vendor info to whet your Southwest appetite before the parking lot fills up on Sunday.

I agree whole-heartedly with my editor (can you believe it?) here at Patch . It is the first true representation of a Minnesota spring, which frankly on March 21 is not well promoted by the whisper of wind through icy tree limbs and piles of black snow.

But enough about the past. The grass is green, it's time to sow seeds and the sun has actually made a legitimate show of itself on more than one occasion. So now it is time for all the sights, sounds and tastes that our Southwest markets promise from now through late fall.

In this, part one of my intro to the fine markets or our area, I bring you the reigning local fave: the with its season opener on Sunday, May 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This small brief should soothe your locavore-Sun Street bread loving head as it spins in anticipation.

The Kingfield market's inaugural year was 2001, when an intrepid neighborhood association began what is now a much-lauded enterprise. The early days saw just eight vendors on a plot a few blocks north of its present-day location. From there, the market grew slowly but surely, until 2006 when it really started to take off.

"We moved to the site where we are now and the community embraced it. Eventually it made sense to start our own organization," said Kingfield Farmers Market treasurer, David Brauer, the local journalist who's written for or about every news outfit in town.

He and the other volunteers formed an independent 501 (c)(4) to run the market operations and never looked back, but did strive to retain its smaller feel in comparison to many of the Twin Cities' other similar venues, while still supporting local growers, chefs, bakers and enterprises.

This year at Kingfield will see the usual variety of produce, canned goods, prepared foods and proteins with returning vendors like Chef Shack, Foxy Falafel, Swede Lake Farms (garlic), Braucher's meats and Martha's Joy preserved goods and new ones like Gai Gai Thai, Beez Kneez honey and Singing Hills Goat Dairy.

Vendor Peter Marshall of Peter's Pumpkins has been selling at the market for seven years. For him and wife Carmen, "Kingfield is a small market with a big atmosphere... It is like a block party to meet friends and neighbors every Sunday!"

In addition to the sellers, regular monthly events will add some spice to the proceedings. First Sundays will focus on kids, second Sundays will have a Bake-Off contest and third Sundays will have cooking demos. Sponsors for the various extras include Twin Town Guitars and Good Life Catering and noted chefs like Stewart Woodman and Mike Phillips have been known to make an appearance here.

The atmosphere is decidedly neighborhood-y and at this market, whose mission is to support local and sustainable food and bring the community closer together. This per Brauer, who continues to work for its future (and that of Fulton market's as well). It's that kind of atmosphere and ethos that keeps its sponsors happily on board.

Julene Lind ebulliently explained Ace Hardware's decision to back the Kingfield market. "I believe in good food and this neighborhood. We're proud to sponsor it and see how it has grown."

Brauer and his compatriots should be pleased. It seems that their market is living up to its mission and as its eleventh year begins this weekend, it will be helping a some new vendors find their footing.

You can support the Kingfield Farmers Market by volunteering to do set-up (your payment is spice donuts from Chef Shack), tear down, a lit drop or even becoming a Friend of the Market. Or simply go and partake of the quality local food and hang out with your neighbors — that may be the finest show of support you can give.

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/4310 Nicollet Ave. S.

Sunday May 22 to October 30 - 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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