Friday, August 21, 2015

Our Farmers Market Love Letter

Midtown Farmers Market

Our Farmers Markets are in full swing now, and of course, Winter Goddess Foods is in the thick of the season.  But why go through all that hard work and aggravation, not to mention getting up at curse-word dark thirty to get everything ready and loaded into the car?  Why battle the threat of bad weather, or the competition from scheduled events drawing customers away?  Why go through the hassle?  Well that explanation requires a short trip back to memory lane for an answer.

 With all the growth that we have experienced over the course of time, it's hard to believe that just 6 years ago we started selling at our first market - the Midtown Farmers Market in South Minneapolis. Back then, market management relegated us to the Tuesday Market day, since we were an unknown with no experience or following, reserving the more financially lucrative Saturday Market for the more experience, and bigger name growers and artisans.  Undaunted, through hard work, and at some points sheer force of will, Terry and I survived and thrived on Tuesdays.  Like a phenom minor league prospect in baseball, eventually we received "the call," and took our spot in the Saturday market, where we have been ever since.


Through those years, we have tried and failed with a number of ideas for products that seemed like a good idea in theory at the time, only to fall flat in practice. (Frank's Oh-so Crispees, I will never forget you *sob*)  At times our desire to create clean food items directly clashed with the realities of food preparation and preservation.  No matter how green you want to be, some foods do require some sort of preservative, even a natural one, to allow for a decent shelf life and to retard spoilage.   Finances also played a big part in what we could do as a Mom and Pop Shop compared to the big boys.  Still, we did what we could while remaining true to our ideals, and to the trust that folks show for our products.
 
Having never operated a business before, Terry and I had a steep learning curve to overcome.  We learned that not all packaging suited our product needs; especially for durability. We struggled through horrible, uninformed and incompetent suggestions for branding, labeling, printing and marketing, throwing tons of money away in the process.  Our biggest lesson learned was that not everyone has YOUR best interest at heart.  We found out that there are those out there who will talk a good game while doing whatever they can to siphon away your hard earned dollars, or your time and effort, based on promises they could not or would not keep.  To those folks we say, thank you for being our teachers.  Now, we know you.

Prior Lake Farmers Market
Why mention our struggles?  Quite frankly it was the Farmers Markets and our love for them that kept us going even through the dark times.  We love the Midtown community and the drive of the people here to make something worthwhile, sustainable and just plain fun for everyone in the area.  Changes in Market management have improved the mindset and follow-through to new heights, sparking positive changes, ideas and innovation, and we are so proud to be an active participant.  The wonderful communities of Prior Lake and Elk River are also near and dear to our hearts, and we are happy to serve and educate our friendly market attendees.  Their kindness and openness make us feel like honorary members of those communities as well.


Elk River Farmers Market

Our desire to serve and to be a part of such a wonderful family (The Farmers Market Community), as well as our desire to be good citizens in the world helped us to endure the adversity that molded and shaped us into who we are as a company today, and it will continue to shape our business in the future. We took our lumps, and while we were knocked down, we were never knocked out.  At each challenge, we rose to the occasion and not only succeeded, but improved as a business.  Each market day brings a smile to our faces in anticipation of seeing and serving our "Peeps," educating the public about healthy food choices and sustainability, and combating the misinformation or confusion about organic produce and products.  Terry and I would often say that even if we were to hit the Lottery, we would still do the Markets because we love them so much!  This is where we live, this is where we dance, and we are so very glad to be here.  Thank you, Farmers Markets!