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Albert Lea Farmers Market prepares for the start of another year

The Albert Lea Farmers Market will kick off its new season Wednesday in the North Broadway parking lot with several new vendors slated to begin selling goods.

Verlys Huntley, a longtime vendor at the market, said there will be a new meat vendor, another baker and another crafter, and there are several others who have shown interest.

Though traditionally the first markets don’t have a lot of produce because of the weather, people can expect to see asparagus, rhubarb, eggs, baked goods, bedding plants and flowers and craft items.

“The meat is exciting because we haven’t had meat there for a few years,” she said.

All items sold at the market are required to be made, grown or raised by the vendors.

As things are starting to open up more at the state level regarding COVID-19 guidelines, the guidelines for the market are also loosening, she said. People are free to wear masks if they choose but will not be required. People are still encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines.

Holly Karsjens, executive director of the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau, is working to bring in musicians to perform in or near the market at various times throughout the season, and people can expect more activities and things going on.

The Power of Produce program will start at the first market, which gives Freeborn County children ages 4 to 12 a $2 token to spend at each market. The program, which is funded primarily by the Freeborn County Communities Foundation, teaches children to eat healthier and to eat more of a variety of fruits and vegetables. The token can only be used to buy fruits and vegetables.

Children can sign up for the program at the main market desk, where people also go to make credit card purchases.

“It’s always exciting at the beginning of the year, though there will be some uncertainty again this year as we well,” she said. “I love seeing new vendors come in that can add a lot to the market.”

She said vendors aim to run a good, safe market for customers, and she hopes to see everyone back again this year.

The market is open twice a week, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

Huntley encouraged people to follow the market on Facebook for updates.