Farm to pantry: Minneapolis’ newest farmers market

The East Isles Farmers Market opened June 28.


Illustration by Harry Steffenhagen

Maraya King

Last Thursday, residents of Uptown, local vendors and Minnesotans alike gathered in the Mall Park for the opening night of the East Isles Farmers Market. 

Located at 1420 The Mall, this market boasts rotating vendors and special events. It’s also serving as a pilot program for collaboration with the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.

Shane Stenzel, permits manager for Minneapolis parks, said the East Isles Residents Association first approached the parks board with its desire for a market. 

“We were really waiting for an opportunity to allow it,” Stenzel said, adding that the Mall Park landscape was an ideal location.

Director of the East Isles market Debbie Gold said she was looking for ways to involve new members of the community when she hatched the idea for a neighborhood farmers market. 

Nine months and a “crash course in farmers markets” later, the East Isles Farmers Market has become a reality. Gold said she is “super, super excited about this.” 

A few of the market’s offerings include micro-greens, grass-fed beef, farm-fresh produce and homemade pies. The theme of the market is “made for dinner tonight,” Gold said. 

The Smiling Olive, My Sweet Greens, EggPlant Urban Farm Supply and Maazah Chutney are a small selection of the crowd-favorites that will be featured. 

The Bakery will have a booth every other Thursday where they will sell gluten-free and nut-free muffins, cookies, scones and more, said co-owner and head baker Kelli Tennyson in an email. 

With a high density population of renters, Gold said a goal of the market is to bring people together. Whether they are new to the neighborhood, only renting for the summer or decade-long residents, the market will bring folks together under one common interest: food. 

What sets this market apart from the rest is its dedication to locally-produced food. All produce is grown within a 50-mile radius. Each vendor is Minnesota-based. 

Brad Ash, president of the East Isles Residents Association, said there will be 20 to 25 vendors each Thursday. With a total of 40 vendors, an eclectic array of choices will always be offered. 

Aside from its culinary aspects, the market is making a point to support women in business. Gold said more than 60 percent of stands are women-owned.

Environmental impact is also on the market’s radar. Ash said the association has its own booth that is working to educate residents and patrons about environmentally-conscious efforts, eventually leading to the market being a zero-waste event. 

“No one knows what to expect with something new,” Ash said. “But it’s been better than anyone thought and we’re excited to see where it goes from here.”

Now open, the East Isles farmers market will operate every Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. through October 4.