By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News
Posted 3/03/20 (Tue)
Even though winter likes to hang on into April, many of us were reminded last weekend in
The North Dakota Farmers Market & Growers Association held its annual convention in the Baymont in
Several years ago the farmers market folks gave up the traditional Friday night banquet and went with the wine growers. It adds a whole new dimension to growing grapes and what to do with them when they are ripe.
This convention is held late every winter and it seems to coincide with a time when most of us are getting tired of being indoors.
Attendance has been dropping off in recent years and nobody seems to be able to figure out why.
The one given is that we don’t have enough vendors in
State ag deparment local foods guru Jamie Good has really done a good job of lining up the right people to be keynote speakers, to sit on panel discussions, to mingle in the crowd and sometimes a comedy act or two will show up.
Another big plus for this convention is the food. Several years ago the Sysco and Food Services of America template was shattered in favor of having meals at these conventions with food the people attending actually grew.
Believe it or not, there are a number of hotels in
One of the things that farmers market leadership sometimes seems to overlook is the visiting that goes on during the convention.
Sure, there is a tight schedule to keep everybody occupied, but some attendees just like to visit with like minded people to help them better understand themselves and what they are doing.
That camaraderie is important to a lot of people and it shows, especially during those local foods meals because you’ll see a group of people at one table and the next time it’s a completely different group.
One gardener who attended is now 96 years old. He has been farming and gardening in
A family of Slovakian immigrants joined the association several years ago and attend the convention every year.
They operate gardens and a cafe in Anamoose and like to do things in a traditional manner. They are the nicest people and make the best borscht you can imagine.
Sometimes the convention will get some real heavy hitters like Stuart Tracy, the head chef at Pirogue Grille in downtown
Tracy and his wife Cheryl operate this five-star restaurant using local foods as much of the year as possible.
Tracy, who has been a chef on ships and at vacation resorts, has a clever way of turning something as simple as a cucumber into a delicacy.
And, he is kind enough to convey a lot of that information on to the attendees of the convention.
It really is a fantastic event and anybody on the street should consider attending. Some people absolutely refuse to go and those are usually the people who aren’t succeeding in the truck farming business. On the flip side, people attended from Minnesota, Manitoba, South Dakota and Iowa.
There’s no question, farmers market vendors are needed all over the state of
Here are some examples of what I mean. One vendor sold 72 pounds of shell peas in a half hour at $6 a pound. Another sold $96 worth of garlic to a single customer for four consecutive weeks.
Still another, was selling 50-pound bags of onions like they were going out of style.
Oh, and I forgot to mention, these examples are from just one of the 56 member markets in
If you are retired, a college student, a high school FFA group or an individual who wants to earn some extra money, it would behoove you to take a closer look at the North Dakota Farmers Market & Growers Association.
You can do that by logging on to (www.ndfarmersmarkets.org). You’ll be glad you did.