Archived Story

Competing farmers’ market sprouts up in Austin

Published 7:23pm Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A new farmer’s market is coming to Austin next month.

The Austin Farmers’ Market Place recently formed and is set to hold its first market at Oak Park Mall from 4 to 6 p.m. on May 13.

“We want to be a pure farmers’ market selling fruits and vegetables,” said John Ulland, who along with wife Jan Ulland, is one of the founders of the new market.

A few of of the market’s members split off from the Austin Area Farmers Market. Then Board President Tessa Davis and Vice President Kirk Ulland resigned at an Austin Area Farmers Market board meeting on March 12.

Davis, along with husband John Davis of Davis’ Farm, and Kirk and Mary Ulland will all participate in this new market. Joining them will be Wayde and Lynette Groh, and strawberry growers Conley and Erin Vanderplough.

John Ulland declined to discuss specifics behind the split, but described it as irreconcilable differences over the direction of the market. He said members attempted to come to an agreement but could not find a middle ground.

Austin Area Farmers’ Market Board President Heidi Harrabi said the split stemmed from personality differences. She said also said organizers worked very hard to correct the differences, but couldn’t.

Harrabi said the Austin Area Farmers’ market will continue to sell quality products that are all produced in the area.

The Austin Area Farmers’ Market will continue in Austin on May 16, but at a new location: the intersection of Oakland Avenue and Fourth Street Northeast, where Budget Oil used to be.

“We’re moving forward, and we’re excited and happy,” she said.

John and Jan Ullands who own Farmer John’s Pumpkin Patch, and the other organizers have big plans for the new market.

“Our hope is to become one of the first certified markets in Minnesota,” John said.

By being a certified market, they would guarantee all the produce sold at the market is grown by the dealer and not shipped in or bought elsewhere. That way, John said, people know what they’re buying and what chemicals, if any, have been used while growing.

“The organizers felt strongly that Austin shoppers wanted a bona fide farmers market to continue to serve the 18th Avenue Northwest area,” John said in a press release. “Several have said they like to shop the market first as they go to buy groceries. Others have said they like to know their producers.”

Minnesota doesn’t currently certify markets, but the founders are looking into a certification based on California’s standards to certify farmers markets to assure customers that all products sold at a certified market will always be as represented.

The market is looking for vendors, but there are a few requirements. All approved products — crafts, baked goods, fruits and vegetables — sold at the market must be grown or produced by the vendor within a 35-mile radius of Austin.

In a press release, the organizers said the market rules and by-laws were written to assure customers that the market will provide fruits and vegetables grown only minutes from the garden.

The leaders of the new market will hold an informational meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the community room in Oak Park Mall to talk to venders and people interested in participating.

The market will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

To commemorate the first week in May, the market will feature events for children to help get youngsters involved. Children can become venders for $10 and sell their own items.

The goal is to get more young families in the habit of eating the fresh, healthy fruit and vegetables found only at a local farmers market.

“It’s important to have locally grown, safe food,” he said.

Farmers’ Market Place is a member of the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association, licensed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture/Minnesota Grown, and can be followed on Facebook.



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