Walker Place's Mini-Market Brings Produce to Seniors

The senior community's summer courtyard market opens up to the public this year starting Friday afternoon.

The Farmers Market begins its second season on Friday afternoon, June 17 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. This year, the senior center is inviting not just its residents and staff, but also the public to enjoy the mini market that will have items for sale that are fresh and direct-from-the-farm.

"It's in the courtyard between the health center and us — the perfect little venue for it," said Glenda Reid, Walker Place's Resident Service Coordinator.

She said that they made a decision to expand the hours of the farmers market for 2011 so that it would hit some of the shift changeovers for those who work at the medical center and the 55+ continuing care community.

Spearheading the effort to start the market last year was Activities Assistant Lupe Luque. "I got the idea because I enjoy going to farmers markets myself," she said. "I thought it would be a fantastic idea for our residents and staff."

This year Luque, the market manager, has enlisted three new vendors to visit Walker Place weekly, and they've promised to bring tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, greens, herbs, fruits and fresh flowers and plants to the market as they come into season. By opening it up to the public, she hopes to retain their vendors throughout the summer and build ties to the greater community.

To ensure its success, Luque distributed flyers to businessses throughout the area to get the word out. She walked the neighborhood and visited homes, as well as getting some advertising help from Walker Place's in-house newspaper and the East Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood Association.

"Since we're opening to the public, we might need to grow a little bit this year," she explained.

Luque applied for the necessary permits through the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), and its mini-market program with the City of Minneapolis. IATP helped change city rules so that small farmers markets could more easily and cheaply form and create access to fresh products from growers.

IATP Local Foods Program Associate Madeline Kastler worked with Lupe to get her permit through the city. The price to start a mini-market is $159 with no annual renewal cost. Walker Place fits the mini-market guidelines perfectly, with less than 5 vendors and sales of only fresh local vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers and plants and the minimal fee made it feasible.

"Walker Place residents weren't able to get the bigger farmers markets. Mobility was a real issue. Lupe brought the market to the seniors," Kastler said of Luque's efforts.

IATP looks at these small markets as positive access for both buyers and sellers, and the number of mini-markets in Minneapolis has grown from 8 in 2008 to 21 in 2011. This year, in addition to advice, they've provided the Walker Place Farmers Market with a large banner for the courtyard area.

The entire complex awaits Friday afternoon's first market of the season. As Reid put it simply, "Our residents love it." That's probably the most important detail about the upcoming market.

Walker Place FarmersMarket
3701 Bryant Ave. S. - 612.827.8500
Friday afternoons, 2-6 p.m. June 17 - August 26, 2011

Southwest Minneapolis Patch will be at Friday's market taking photos of opening day.

Marsha Trainer June 17, 2011 at 04:35 PM
In the fourth paragraph I called the adjoining building a hospital but it is actually a medical center. Also, the market may only have fresh cut flowers today, as the winter was tough on the market's vendors and there aren't many vegetables yet.


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