Ag and Asphalt

I think I re-wrote the intro to this article like four times so here it is.

Farmer’s Market board: The Best Buy parking lot sucks.

I’m sorry, but everyone I’ve talked to hates it. I know it’s more convenient for some of your vendors, but come on. You go to any Farmer’s Market in almost any city and they have it either in a dedicated space or downtown by the shops. Your location literally deters me from going. I can’t bike there, driving all the way there is a pain, it’s inconveniently located for a lot of people and there’s few things less pleasant than hanging out in a sea of hot asphalt. Most saturdays, I don’t even think of it because I try and block the existence of anything past Victory Drive from my brain.

In case you need proof that you’re pretty much alone in your decision to camp out in sprawl, Owatonna has their farmer’s market here, Faribault has theirs here, and St. Cloud has theirs here. If you want to Google some other cities in the area, go ahead, you’re going to get the same result.

It’s just depressing driving out on Madison Avenue, surrounded by fast food joints and big box stores to find local, fresh produce. Nothing says “farm fresh” like seeing the illuminated bloom of the Old Country Buffet sign right across the street. Ugh.

I say this out of love, truly, honestly I do. It’s like telling your teenage son that being a juggalo will just end in sadness and regret. You’re just looking to be honest with him to spare him future ridicule. I want the farmer’s market to do well, like really, really well. I want it to be a point of pride in the community and something I can go to every week. Right now, it feels like an afterthought at best.

EDIT: Now that I think about it, it’s essentially August and I have been to the Farmer’s market once this year. And yes, it’s because it’s way out of the way.

I’m not coming without a solution, though. Even though I’ve talked about this before, if we wanted a quick solution, I say we stick you guys underneath the 169 Bridge.

169 Bridge

There’s potential here…

Think about it, you’re guaranteed shade and rain protection. Likewise you’re in a space that’s close to downtown (walkable and bikeable, actually right off two trails) and you’re bringing something to an otherwise unutilized space. There’s enough room down there for trucks to get in and there’s plenty of room for parking.

Again, you’re just minute away from the Children’s Museum and a short hop away from the river and Sibley park. If the DOT doesn’t want to let you have that space, it’s fine, we can find somewhere else to put you. Or we can go back to my original suggestion.

I don’t want to go on lambasting you, but surely you see how being located in the Best Buy parking lot is just kind of lame. No one is inspired to go and shop for fresh food in the shadow of a sub-par (at best) electronics dealership. If for no other reason, you’re missing out on just the “cool” factor of a downtown farmer’s market.

If you need more convincing, how about we just look at potential market. Locating in or near downtown is putting you in the densest part of town, meaning you will have the greatest opportunity for people to access your market which means more sweet greens. Not only more dense, but more centrally located for both cities. I think it’s almost ironically cruel to put the food people need the most in a place that is 100% unwalkable. It’s like making the gym only accessible by escalator

I’ve made a handy map to show you where most of your clientele might live.

farmermarket

I know for a fact that I’m not the only who’s contacted you about this, but maybe the fine people reading this blog could help.

Here’s their site, drop them a line.

http://www.mankatofarmersmarket.com/contact-us
Come on, just think about it ok?

About Matthias Leyrer

Matthias Leyrer is a resident of Mankato looking to restore a fraction of its old glory. He writes about the economic, aesthetic, practical and financial issues facing the city of Mankato going forward.