Where to find Minnesota-grown fresh greens in the heart of winter.
Originally published in the January 24, 2017 edition of The Journal
Nothing brings a smile to my face in the middle of winter like a plate full of fresh locally grown greens. At the Mill City Farmers Market’s winter market last Saturday, farmers unloaded bunches of spinach, microgreens, Swiss chard, kale and lettuce as customers drooled with delight. Many of the markets farmers bring produce to the market all year long by utilizing greenhouses, root cellars for storage crops and even aquaponics. Mill City Farmers Market requires all produce to be sustainably grown by local farmers, which means their products are never “seconds” purchased from grocery stores or treated with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
So how are they bringing fresh greens to market when all of our lawns and gardens are covered in a foot of snow? Not too far from Rochester in Elgin, MN, Pam Benike, owner of Prairie Hollow Farm, grows fresh greens and vegetables throughout our Minnesota winter in her farm’s greenhouses. With only sunshine and angles of the glass walls her three greenhouses are heated to at least 75 degrees every day! In addition to fresh greens, Pam is able to bring beets, turnips, cabbage, squash, sweet potatoes and daikon radishes by carefully storing them in her root cellar throughout the winter.
A little closer to home in south Minneapolis, Tim Page, owner of Holistic Health Farms, stays busy growing micro greens, kale, Swiss chard and other “light-feeding” crops in an aquaponic system. Aquaponics is a type of agriculture in which farmed fish, in Tim’s case: tilapia, supply the nutrients to grow plants indoors under grow lights. You can find both vendors and all their fresh greens at Mill City Farmers Market’s next winter market inside the Mill City Museum. Click here to get the schedule and learn more about the winter market!