Visit Local Markets To Augment Your Gardens

This entry is part 20 of 31 in the series Grow Your Own Challenge

Visit Local Markets To Augment Your Garden

While we do grow most of our produce, sometimes a deer or bugs will make sure we don’t get to make all of it. This year, deer came in and devastated our cucumber plants. Not sure why they ate all of them down to numbs, but they did. To fill the gap, we went to a local farmers market. Local markets are a great way to support local farmers and augment your own growing. 

I live in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. If you want to be a big yuppy hipster you can go to the St. Paul or Minneapolis farmers market. They have adequate selections but come with Minneapolis prices. If you just want good produce at a cheap price, go to the Hmongtown Marketplace. It is one of my favorite places to stop but don’t be surprised if some of the ladies working there get up and walk away when you talk to them. Some don’t speak english and they will return with a grandkid to talk to you. This place is legit! By the way, if you don’t know, St. Paul is home to large population of Hmong immigrants. They are from Vietnam and were our ally during the war. Most are very kind and their family-focused culture is a refreshing breath of fresh air. I have a lot of Hmong guests at our cabins up north and they are wonderful to work with (although occasionally we have different expectations on how many people can fit in a cabin). 

hmongtown marketplace sign

Every trip here is entertaining. We always walk through the retail buildings and tents that are set up. It’s a whole other world when you walk in. 

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We went to get our produce. We bought about 25 pounds of cucumbers for $10, paid $2 for a clump of 17 garlic heads, and $10 for a 5 gallon bucket of beans.  To give you an idea of how great a deal that is, we bought a clump of garlic heads at the Minneapolis Farmers Market that had 10 heads for $15. It’s a complete ripoff there.

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The other produce is excellent too. This is what you can expect when you get there:

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After bringing our food to the car, we made sure to go back in and try out some of their authentic cuisine. They have food and produce here that you will have never even heard of. I keep expecting to see Andrew Zimmern filming bizarre foods there every time I go. Do you know what this is? Bacon. 1 inch thick bacon. #theywin

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I think this is taliapia. Not 100% sure. But it is deep fried … whole and it’s delicious. IMG_7807-12

Johnnie picked out “fried minnows.” Turns out he loves anchovies.

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I’d also warn you about the pop up tents that sell fresh corn and flowers that you see all over the suburbs too. I can usually go to Byerlys, an upscale grocer, and get the same thing for the same price. One time they were selling fresh local corn in June and I had to ask where it came from. Missouri. Well, obviously it wasn’t from Minnesota yet. So just be aware.

The lesson here is think outside the box when you source your produce. In the next blog post, I will show you how we made dill pickles from our Hmongtown Marketplace cucumbers.

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