Bright and early yesterday morning, shoppers and growers at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market took a break from their usual Sunday business when Gov. Tim Walz stepped up to a collapsible table strewn with corn.
As Olympic athlete and Minnesota Grown spokesperson Carrie Tollefson announced, Governor Walz would be competing in a corn shucking contest alongside Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Thom Peterson. But first, Tollefson needed volunteers from the crowd to round out the competition.
Hands shot up.
From the masses emerged a pair of ace shuckers, including a woman in a white apron who went on to resoundingly kick everyone’s butt -- the governor’s included. Organizers never caught her name.
As emcee Tollefson explained, the governor-endorsed down-home fanfare was a kick-off to National Farmers’ Market Week, running now through August 10.
According to the MDA, agriculture is the foundation of our economy here in Minnesota. We rank #5 in the nation in agricultural production, creating $17 billion in ag sales per year. Production and processing in this sector generates over $112 billion annually in total economic impact, while supporting more than 431,127 jobs.
But its value goes beyond dollars and statistics. “Farmers markets across the state represent a town’s gathering point, the center of the local community,” said David Kotsonas, executive director of the St. Paul Farmers’ Market.
With more than 185 farmers markets across Minnesota, Peterson -- who also suffered a devastating loss to the populace’s white-aproned, corn shucking vigilante -- suggested the best way to find out what special events your local market is hosting this week is “by using the popular Minnesota Grown directory.” Each market will host its own brand of community-enhancing fun.
There’s at least one fun event that unites all these disparate farmers markets: a state-wide contest in which folks can submit a photo from their market. Each winner receives a gift card to their local market.