Local farmers markets underway


Mary Helen Sperl cuts a head of romaine lettuce from the small farm next to her West St. Paul home July 1. Along with produce, she was selling basil, flowers and tomato and pepper plants. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

Here’s where to get fresh goods in northern Dakota County

Mary Helen Sperl sells plants, vegetables and pumpkins from her small sideyard farm in West St. Paul. When customers ask for a head of romaine lettuce, she grabs a knife and cuts it straight from the ground and hands it to them.

The two lots where she plants lettuce, tomatoes and cauliflower are what essentially remain of her grandfather’s 10-acre farm that was sold to developers in the 1970s. Sperl said the houses across the street sit on land that used to be a pasture, where her grandparents’ cows grazed.

Since around the 1980s, Sperl’s small operation at 1254 Charlton St. has been one of the spots licensed to sell such farm-fresh produce in town.

The other is a St. Paul Farmers Market satellite location that has been set up outside Signal Hills Mall each growing season for decades.

Already underway this year, the West St. Paul farmers market is every Friday from 8 a.m. until noon, through the final day on Oct. 31, at 1201 S. Robert St.

Area residents can choose from multiple farmers market satellites in northern Dakota County. Inver Grove Heights’s market will take place every Sunday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. through Oct. 5 at the Veterans Memorial Community Center parking lot at 8055 Barbara Ave.

South St. Paul’s farmers market opened up for the season on July 2. It’ll go from 3 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday until Sept. 24, with some relatively new digs to work with at 1151 Southview Blvd.

Now in its second year, the city is continuing with the Wakota Federal Credit Union parking lot as its location, permanently replacing the Central Square Community Center lot that housed the market previously.

“It’s perfect, and a beautiful place that people really enjoyed last year. It’s really visible, and from the main street in town. We’re all happy,” said South St. Paul spokesperson Deb Griffith. “People want fresh veggies; they want the camaraderie. There are new options this year, too, so there are a lot of reasons to come out.”

The South St. Paul farmers market is also teaming up with members of the Girl Scouts, and will be giving out fresh produce in the city’s senior public housing high rises.

“We talked to (the seniors) earlier this year,” Griffith said. “They’re very excited, too. They’re getting the fresh foods in (appropriate) portions. Nobody needs five pounds of potatoes, so we’re going to make sure they get a consistent, portioned group of produce.”

The food options for this growing season are exciting, even for the most novice of outdoor produce shoppers.

Vendors include Novak’s Apple Orchard, Lorence’s Berry Farm and Glacial Ridge Growers, Inc., just to name a few of the groups that will be on-hand all over the St. Paul suburban area.

It won’t just be residents going, either. State and city officials are just as excited to go, and that includes Griffith.

“You’re darn tootin’ I’m going,” she said.

Tim Faklis can be reached at 651-748-7814 and tfaklis@lillienews.com. Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and kroby@lillienews.com.

 

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