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Get The Inside Scoop On Summer Farmers Markets

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(credit: CBS) Amelia Santaniello
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis Farmers Market is celebrating its 75th year at its location on the edge of downtown.

“At one point, Minneapolis was the third largest distributor of produce in the United States,” said Sandy Hill with the Central Minnesota Vegetables Grower’s Association. “Back then, we were just under New York and Chicago.”

The group runs the market and oversees the 170 vendors who sell there each week.

“A lot of the stuff growers pick just hours before they come to market,” Hill said. “It’s all so fresh.”

Hungry shoppers know they have to arrive bright and early to get their fill of locally grown veggies, herbs, flowers and fruit, as farmers start selling at 6 a.m.

“We pick, wash and pack everything to bring it down here within 24 hours of sale time,” grower Norah Dehn said.

What’s best to buy varies from week to week. Right now, it’s all about plants — flowers and herbs are at their peak.

“Annuals, perennials, bedding plants, starter vegetables plants, herbs,” Hill said. “Anything you’d want to start a garden is here.”

Right now, items such as asparagus, spinach, spring peas and rhubarb are in season. Farmers said it will be another week or two until berries are brought in.

A benefit for farmers market shoppers is having all of your questions answered.

“The growers would really like for you to talk with them,” Hill said. “They love to tell you how they grew their food, or their produce.”

Matthew Galloway shops at the farmers market as often as he can.

“It’s delicious and it’s really cheap,” he said, holding several bags of produce. “Some of the grocery stores have good produce, but you know, you pay more for it.”

Another tip from the professionals is if you see something you want, buy it on the spot.

“If you see it and you want it, buy it when you see it,” Dehn said.

One problem with any farmers market is not everything is always in season.

Click here to see a seasonal chart.

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