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A man with a carton of potatoes at the farmers market

The farmers market along Church Street on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Wednesday, July 12 to August 30.

Farmers market returns to TC campus

By Paulline Oo

From Brief, June 28, 2006; updated July 11

Summer spells sunshine, barbeques, shorts, and flip-flops. It also means fresh-cut flowers, sugar snap peas, vine-ripened tomatoes, and sweet, juicy corn.

For the second year in a row, the University of Minnesota's UPlan Wellness program is sponsoring a farmers market along Church Street on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis. The market will be held 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday from July 12 to August 30. Thus far, a dozen vendors have signed on and will sell a variety of Minnesota-grown flowers, fruits, and vegetables. The vendors were chosen based on a list of criteria, including affordability, customer service, and compliance with good agricultural and farm management practices.

The lone organic vendor is University student group Cornercopia, which manages an acre of organically farmed land on the Twin Cities campus in St. Paul. (The group will receive its organic certification in summer 2008.) At last year's market, Cornercopia drew a crowd to its table with herbs, such as dill and parsley (two bunches for $1); vegetables, such as Swiss chard, mustard greens, and spinach ($2 a bunch); and a wild salad mix.

Shopping tips

* Arrive early for the best and widest selection.

* Bring change and small bills.

* Bring a tote bag, backpack, or a wagon to carry your purchases.

* Buy only what you can use for a week, to assure freshness.

* Refrigerate your perishable purchases as soon as possible.

After shopping, or even before you start, visit the Bell Museum for Bloom!, a botanical art exhibit that runs through August 27. (Admission to the museum is free for U employees and students.) Or head over to Northrop plaza for a free summer concert--Jack Norton and the Mullet River Boys (bluegrass, Dixieland, and vaudeville) will play noon to 1 p.m. July 19; Donohue, Newton, and Raynor (acoustic blues, swing, and pop tunes) on July 26.

"[The farmers market] makes it easier for our employees to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables that are necessary to maintain health," says Carol Carrier, vice president of human resources at the U.

Carrier is responsible for planting the seed for the East Bank market about three years ago--throwing the idea on the table when her office launched UPlan Wellness, a program to promote a healthy lifestyle among U employees.

Representatives from Health Connections, the health improvement arm of the UPlan program, and members of the newly forming group, Wellness Collaborative, will be available during the farmers market to offer tips on wellness, fitness, and worklife balance, as well as how to earn $65 for taking steps to better heath. Additionally, the monthly 20-minute Wellness Walk will take place on August 2 at 1 p.m. (Listen for the emergency alert siren.) And trainers from the U of M Department of Recreational Sports will give exercise demonstrations.

Complimentary tote bags will be given away to the first 1,000 customers on the first Wednesday. Last year, 500 bags disappeared within 10 minutes.

"[Our] farmers market is [popular because it's] a place to take a break from work," says coordinator Jill Thielen. "It gives employees a chance to get outdoors, walk, spend time with colleagues, and bring home fresh flowers and vegetables."

The farmers market is located along Church Street in front of the Tate Lab of Physics, near the Church Street Garage.

For more information on the U's farmers market or to view photos from last year's market, visit the Office of Human Resources' farmers market Web site.

Visiting another campus? The University also has a farmers market on the Duluth campus. Vendors from the Sustainable Farming Association will sell items such as plants, herbal hand creams, and vegetables on Kirby Plaza every Wednesday, through September 27, from 2 p.m. until all the products sellout. Both the Morris and Crookston campuses offer fresh local foods through two campus-community partnerships: Pride of the Prairie and Local Foods Partnership, respectively.