Small Town News


Change is happening at the Chatfield Growers' Market

The Chatfield News of Chatfield, Minnesota

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We're all excited for the first bite of fresh local asparagus, succulent spinach or crunchy radishes. The local growers have spring fever preparing their gardens to offer the freshest products to the community. With some new changes, they're hoping more families have opportunity to shop at the market for the fresh and local goods.

New market hours will be extended one hour from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays beginning May 5 in the Chatfield City Park and will continue through the last Thursday of October. "This will give people who get off work in the early evening more time to get to the market," comments Doris Schleusner, a long time vendor. "It's also a great tie-in to the Concert in the Park series that starts at 7:30 p.m., also on Thursdays, but beginning in June. It will give early-comers to the concert a chance to come the market and purchase some local goods before the entertainment begins."

Carmen Narveson is the band director of the Chatfield Brass Band that organizes the concerts in the park. She's excited about the extended market hours feeling that the change will augment the festive atmosphere on those warm summer evenings in the park. The Chatfield Brass Band will kick off the first performance on June 9 The Swing Street Band, The Irish Minstrels, Lost Faculties (a local classic rock band), and the Rhubarb Sisters are also lined up to perform during the summer series. The Rochester Community Band will offer the last of the eight performances of the series on Aug. 4.

"We have encouraged vendors to offer baked goods and such that people can snack on during the concert," says Chantel Prigge, one of the growers, "and we hope some out-of-towners will make a point to come a bit early before the concerts to check out what the market has to offer as well as frequenting the other down town businesses. For many faithful customers, shopping at the market is an event they look forward to, giving them a chance to socialize, relax, and enjoy the city park."

The Chatfield Growers Market is also seeking new vendors. "More quantity and selection of produce and other products will make it more worthwhile for locals to stop in at the park to buy their super fresh favorites like lettuce and tomatoes," says Andrea Mueller, one of the original market members. Vendors are required to be within a 25-mile radius of Chatfield, which is another change - previously it was 20 miles. "We're looking forward to having a new apple vendor from Rushford that now qualifies within the 25 miles," Mueller adds.

Anyone interested in being a vendor can receive the by-laws explaining the rules, and a vendor application. Prigge is the new president of the Chatfield Growers' Market and is the contact person for potential vendors. She can answer any questions about the market and can be reached at 507-951-8405, or e-mail at

"I provide my family with as much fresh food as I can grow myself or get my hands on. It's what I believe in, and the market is a way for me to offer healthy food to the community" explains Mueller.

Lavonne Larrabee, the previous president and original member (founder) of the market, died this year and will be sorely missed, but all the members agree that she would want the market to carry on and grow with the community.

Mueller hopes that awareness of food quality encourages more people to make healthier choices. "It's now been proven by Cornell University that organic produce has up to 30 percent more vitamins and minerals than conventional produce and without the harmful pesticides and herbicides. I know that when I eat too much highly processed foods that my immunity is way down and I get sick. She goes on to say that many people may not know it, but much of the produce at farmers markets are grown using organic methods even though the farmer may not be "certified" organic. Many growers with a small operation find that going through the hurdles of becoming officially "certified" and a $500 fee is not worthwhile because their customers already trust that their products are grown conscientiously with the environment and their health in mind. By buying directly from the grower it gives the customer a chance to ask them directly how he/she manages their land.

Copyright 2011 The Chatfield News, Chatfield, Minnesota. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: April 27, 2011

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