Summer Squash and Sweet Corn
By Bailey Hovland
Imagine this: you’re sitting out at a cabin, the shade of an oak tree and the gentle Minnesota breeze keeping you cool on the hot, summer day. The kids are splashing around in the shallows of the lake, squealing as the cold water drips off their skin. Your mind is elsewhere, trying to figure out a plan for the rest of the week. Should you fill up the boat with gas for tubing tonight or tomorrow? Would the kids want to go on a bike ride into town for ice cream later? And most importantly, what will you eat this week?
Perhaps homemade jam on fresh bread for lunch. Maybe some sweet corn and fresh berries for lunch. You might even pull out the grill to cook some bison burgers and summer squash for dinner. But first, you’ll have to stop at one of the Willmar Lakes Area’s many farmer’s markets to stock up on these mouthwatering grocery items.
The Midweek Farmer’s market, held every Wednesday from June 6 to October 3, has an abundance of locally grown produce, baked goods, and homemade jellies and jams. From noon to 5:30 p.m. area growers and vendors are camped out in the Kandi Mall parking lot, just in between to Aldi and JC Penney. You can find Larson sweet corn (my absolute favorite sweet corn in the whole world), tomatoes, cucumbers and so much more! This farmer’s market is also held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the same location, hosting similar vendors for those of us who get our groceries on the weekends.
On Thursday afternoon, the Becker Market is in full swing from 2 to 6 p.m. in downtown Willmar. This multicultural farmer’s market offers fresh lettuce from Lettuce Abound in New London and
cherry tomatoes from the MinnWest Greenhouse, perfect for that summer side salad to balance out a hearty cheeseburger. They also have fresh baked bread from My Kitchen Bakery of Dassel, MN, and eggs from the Eggman, ideal for breakfast time. The organizers behind Becker Market are passionate people, working hard to provide access to fresh food in our community. With all these positives, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to drive over to Becker Avenue and stock up on some amazing foods.
And I can’t forget about the New London Farmer’s Market, “Homegrown and Handmade.” Held at Holm Park from 8 a.m. to noon, this local marketplace will be opening on June 18th to show off its early garden produce, hand-made photo cards and gifts, honey, canned goodies, and plenty of baked treats. They even host a Customer Appreciation Day to thank the community for their support, serving free wood-fired pizzas and samples of different market foods to early visitors. You can even put all your fresh produce and other goods into adorable AND reusable cloth bags that they sell at the market. New London’s “Homegrown and Handmade” truly has it all.
If you’d like some fresh produce after a tiring Saturday morning workout at the YMCA, you’re in luck. The Kandiyohi County Area YMCA hosts a farmer’s market every Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to noon starting June 23 and going through October. Pick up a few spaghetti squashes for a healthy lunch option. Look for a few unique floral arrangements to brighten up your kitchen table. Grab a jar of strawberry rhubarb jelly, one sweet treat I love to slather on my toast in the morning. Then you can head on home with your newfound goodies, satisfied after a good workout and productive shopping spree.
The Willmar Lakes Area is dedicated to providing fresh, locally-sourced food for the community by supporting area growers, bakers, and even jam-makers at local farmer’s markets. So the next time you’re sitting out at the cabin, or at your house, or even at the beach, and trying to figure out what to make for dinner, make plans to go to a local farmer’s market. With the variety of produce, bakery items, and unique vendors, you won’t be disappointed.
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