National Farmers Market Week: A Report from Minnesota

      Posted On: October 13, 2010

By Ruth White, Farmers Market Coalition board member

“It was the broccoli greens that stumped me,” said Minnesota’s Agriculture Commissioner after losing the first-ever “Name that Veggie” contest to kick off 2010’s National Farmers Market Week. Commissioner Gene Hugoson was edged out by U.S. Olympian Carrie Tollefson in his attempt to accurately identify eight different vegetable varieties. Tollefson is also the spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Grown program, which sponsored the event at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. Competing teams also included local television personalities and consumers at the market.


A participant in the FriendChip Farm Club expresses his enthusiasm for cucumbers during National Farmers Market Week.

In conceding his defeat to Tollefson’s team, Hugoson said it was a tough competition for all the contestants.

“Of course we could all identify the cob of corn (laughs), but when it came down to broccoli leaves and bitter melons, many of us were scratching our heads,” said Hugoson.

Minnesota Grown staff traveled to more than twenty farmers markets throughout the state between August 1st and 7th to promote and support local farmers. Many of these markets planned special events and provided baskets of fresh produce as prizes for consumers. Minnesota has about 150 farmers markets with about 130 of them listed in the Minnesota Grown Directory.

learning from the farmer

Children in Minneapolis learn about food and farming, straight from the farmer.

In addition to the veggie contest, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Farmers Market Association, and a local school district summer program organized kid-friendly activities at the farmers market in the Twin Cities suburb of Maplewood.  In these efforts, they collaborated with the KIWI (Kids International Wellness Initiative) program and the FriendChip Farm Club, both which encourage kids to eat more fruits and vegetables and increase their physical activity.

Among the many activities, children participated in a scavenger hunt, Food Pyramid Nutrition Toss and watched a cooking demonstration using locally grown foods. The kids were also allowed to shop for their own items at the market, most opting to buy vegetables!