— Katie Henson, Crow River Food Council Member

As the summer farmers markets came to a close, another gathering took place this fall. All of the Crow River area farmers market managers were invited to a post market meeting to collaborate and network. It’s a meeting I personally looked forward to all summer. It is really a unique opportunity to pull together this great group of local community members to help each other improve our markets and share information. This year we were a small but mighty group and, as always, there was a lot of discussion on how the season went. What was good and bad? Why? We were able to share resources and ideas to help each other out for next year.

43103847_2200100296922388_1052644601044664320_nThis year we had the chance to hold the meeting at the newly built Delano Central Park Commercial Kitchen. It gave everyone a chance to see this great facility that’s right in our own backyards. It was great to see another option for producers, small operations. It’s a great facility for any individual, too, who wants to process a large quantity of produce and maybe don’t have a large enough kitchen or the right equipment themselves. If you want more information on this facility, please reach out to Nick Neaton, with the City of Delano at nneaton@delano.mn.us or 763-972-0575.

We were also given a presentation from Heidi Coe of Second Harvest Heartland. Their mission is to end hunger through community partnerships and one of the ways they accomplish this is by working as a distributor of food to various agencies across the region. There is a great Farm to Food Shelf initiative to get produce (that would have gone unharvested or otherwise been discarded) to a food shelf. Now, they are trying to extend this work to the farmers markets as well. The goal is to facilitate the donation of unsold produce (that wouldn’t last until next week’s market) at the end of the day to a local food shelf. They are still gathering information and have just finished up their pilot program, but they hope to extend this program further next year. My hope is that we can drum up some interest within the Crow River region and pull together enough volunteers to be a part of their program next year! We are looking for interested farmers markets as well as local food shelves who would be interested in partnering for this program.

Now it’s time to rest and celebrate the holidays, and then it is on to start planning next year’s work!

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