National Farmers Market Week celebrated locally

Published 9:36 pm Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Each year the first full week of August is designated as National Farmers Market Week. This is the time of year when growers are reaching the peak of their production.

According to a press release, juicy tomatoes, freshly picked sweet corn, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, beets, broccoli, apples, cabbage, green beans, summer squash, onions, potatoes and much more will fill the vendors tables with a colorful array of locally grown, freshly picked produce.

The Albert Lea Farmers Market dates back to 1980, when it began as part of the Colonel Albert Lea Days.

Email newsletter signup

Moving several times to different locations, the Albert Lea Farmers Market is currently in the municipal parking lot on North Broadway from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays in the Herbergers parking lot along Bridge Avenue.

The local market is approved to accept WIC and Senior Farmers Market nutrition vouchers and customers can also use their EBT/SNAP benefit card at the market, even receiving additional benefits of getting extra bonus market bucks for up to the first $10 used off their card each market visit.

EBT/SNAP cards and major credit cards may be used at the market booth.

The newest addition to the market is the Power of Produce program, for children 4 to 12 years old. At each market visit, each eligible child will receive a $2 wooden token, allowing them to shop for any fresh fruit or vegetable with their market tokens or save and accumulate their tokens for larger purchases.

As a part of this program, the local 4-H staff has educational and fun activities for children twice each month to help them learn about the importance of eating more vegetables and fruits, and allow them to meet and get acquainted with the farmers and learn more about where their food comes from.

Market organizers said that at a time when many young folks are consuming too much fast food and sugary beverages, they need to be familiarized with how good locally grown produce is.

Some of the major sponsors of the Power of Produce program are Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea, which donated $2,000, Walmart donated $1,000 through a local community grant, Minnesota Extension Service donated $500 and Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services $300.

Other businesses and individuals who have contributed will be listed on the donor list at the market. Individuals can make a difference by donating. Stop by the information booth at the market to learn more.

The press release said program is bringing more young families to the market, and parents report their children are now eating more vegetables, helping prepare the food and trying some things they may not have tried before, and having fun at the market through the activities offered at the market. Healthier eating habits can have a lifetime impact.

Regular farmers market customers will notice there will be special events at the market this week, the release stated. Those who have not visited the market may find this is a good time to visit and see what they’ve been missing.

There is also time for children to still sign up for the Power of Produce program.