For vendors and customers of the St. Paul Farmers’ Market, it’s more than produce.
By Ally Brodin and Sam Schutz | News Reporter and Contributing Writer
Arlene Hill wakes up at 6 a.m. every Sunday morning just like she has for the last 13 years. She packs up her van with honey products from Aspen Ridge Honey Farm, drives forty-five minutes to the St. Paul Farmers’ Market and sets up her booth in aisle two. Before customers arrive, she catches up with the other vendors and talks to Mark Porisch, the vendor one spot to her right at the market.
The Saint Paul Farmers’ Market happens every weekend and is full of vendors from across Minnesota selling local produce as well as other goods. The blend of aromas from flowers, coffee, fruit and more combined with the sound of street vendors and customers interacting bring the market to life.
“I have a lot of loyal customers, but it’s more about the friendships of other vendors and my customers. I’ve gotten to know them very well and that means a lot to me,” Hill said.
Jenna Vernier started working at Novak’s Orchard one year ago. She sells apples at the farmers’ market on weekends so she has money for her tuition at the University of Minnesota. One of her favorite things about working at the market is watching the lady in the spot across from her assemble bouquets of flowers. The flower lady gives Vernier stray flowers from her booth.
“The vendors are always nice to one another and many of them have been here a very long time,” Vernier said. “Everybody cares for each other and it’s such a wholesome vibe”.
Christie and Brandie Zaspel drive to the farmers’ market every Sunday morning and arrive around 8:15 a.m.—15 minutes after the market opens. They have been coming to the farmers’ market ever since moving back to Minnesota from Arizona in 2012. For them, the market is a place where they can catch up with their favorite vendors, eat a fresh and delicious breakfast and do their weekly grocery shopping.
“It’s a much better experience than going to Walmart to get your groceries,” Christie said. “This is enjoyable, and you see who is getting your money. It’s all local. I love that.”
With more than 100 regular vendors, the St. Paul Farmers’ Market has fostered many friendships and supported countless local businesses.
“The atmosphere and community never gets old. Also, I wouldn’t trade the last thirteen of being at the farmers’ market for anything, and I can’t wait for the years and memories to come,” Hill said.