The downtown farmers market on the Nicollet Mall in 2018

The Minneapolis farmers market business has grown fast as a weed in recent years.

Nearly 30 farmers markets and mini markets operate in Minneapolis this year with food that traveled an average distance of only 39 miles from the farm to the market, according to the city.

In 2017 the markets operating in Minneapolis brought in more than $13 million in gross sales from about 650 vendors, according to most recent statistics.

Last year, market vendors supported approximately 3,500 employees and served an estimated 1.5 million annual visitors to the markets in Minneapolis. An estimated 11,000 agricultural acres were owned, leased or managed by “Farmers Markets of Minneapolis” vendors.

The farmers markets in Minneapolis collaborate, share insights and best practices and promote themselves in partnership with the city, University of Minnesota and supporters.

The city has an online interactive map to find farmers markets at http.www.minneapolismn.gov/farmersmarkets.

Most of the markets accept SNAP-EBT (“electronic benefits transfer”) cards as payment to give residents on federal food assistance easier access to fresh food, as well as Market Bucks, which provides $10 in additional healthy food to shoppers using SNAP-EBT. Some of the farmers markets are mini-markets, special small markets that the city licenses to get more fresh and affordable produce on the table in low-income neighborhoods.

Buy-local advocates say local produce is nutritious and affordable. And buying at a farmers market strengthens the community between the farmer and consumer and supports the regional economy by allowing the local farmer to keep up to 90 cents per dollar of sales. Many of the farmers markets also feature prepared food, environment-themed educational activities and music.

http://www.minneapolismn.gov/sustainability/homegrown is a citywide initiative that focuses on growing and distributing healthy, locally grown foods.

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