Saturday was an opportune time to hit up the Faribault Farmers Market at Central Park with more produce available than prior weeks.
In addition to the usual craft and baked goods vendors, the most recent market included cucumbers, beans, beets, potatoes and a few tomatoes for sale at various stands.
Bonnie Reineke, of Faribault, visited the Farmers Market to “get all the good stuff”: cookies and onions. Other customers didn’t attend the market with an agenda but noticed the stands while passing through the area.
Donna Bauer, who coordinates the Faribault Farmers Market with her husband, Russ, said sweet corn is close to ready while pea season is coming to a close. What’s unusual, she said, is kohlrabi and cabbage have been slow growing this year.
Dennis and Linda Gare, of Faribault, were among a number of produce vendors at the Farmers Market Saturday. Although the pair sell other products like homemade chocolates and jams, the produce was the big sale July 27. He expects they’ll bring more tomatoes and cucumbers next weekend among their other items.
“I made 58 jars [of jam] last week to keep me going,” said Dennis. “I’ll make more soon.”
Mike Johnston, of Riverview Veggies, also brought produce like zucchini and peppers for the first time this week. He only had four peppers ready, and they sold within the first hour. Another unique feature he brings to the market is popcorn, but not the type that comes in a bag. Instead, he dries out ears of corn over the winter and sells the popcorn on the cob. At upcoming markets, he plans to bring sweet corn.
The Faribault Farmers Market isn’t only about vegetables, even for produce vendors. Johnston’s wife, Liz, who does the “behind-the-scenes” work with Riverview Veggies, likes to walk around the market to shop for products like Whispering Creek Farm soap.
Beth Ann Hanson, of Morristown, began making soap out of goats milk when she was just 10 years old. Five years later, she continues to sell her Whispering Creek Farm products at the Faribault Farmers market. Her most popular product, she said, is the Rose Petal soap made with real rose petals.
Other non-edible products included jewelry by Karen Ridley, who operated Kreations by Karen, and Happy Home rustic decor handmade by Stacy Haan, of Lonsdale.
“I told my husband to teach me how to saw, and then I went crazy,” said Haan with a laugh.
Haan said the Faribault Farmers Market is her first farmers market experience, and so far her most popular products are plant stands and blanket ladders.
One of the busiest days at the Faribault Farmers Market is still to come, according to Donna Bauer. Family Day, co-sponsored by Rice County Public Health, will include a petting zoo and other fun activities for families on Sept. 14.
Lawmakers working for months on a way to help Minnesotans struggling with runaway insulin prices say they’ve agreed on a plan to get emergency insulin to those who need it.
However, there’s no deal yet on how to pay for it, and Capitol leaders haven’t signed off on it.
Under the proposal, people who meet financial requirements and have been prescribed insulin could go directly to most pharmacies to receive a short-term, 20-day supply. After that, qualifying patients could receive a “stopgap” insulin supply for up to an additional two months.
“Right now, there is no system, it’s a total mess,” said Sen. Matt Little, DFL-Lakeville, who convened private talks with a group of lawmakers from both parties and the House and Senate to reach the deal. “Coupons or rebates won’t save someone in an emergency, and even with discounts the price of insulin is irrationally and unaffordably high.”
DFL Gov. Tim Walz and leaders in both parties at the Legislature tried to hammer out an agreement during last session after hearing the heartbreaking story of Alec Smith, 26, who died while trying to ration insulin because he couldn’t afford his needed supply.
The cost of insulin has tripled in the last 10 years, according to the governor’s office.
Heading into final budget talks in late May, the House and the Senate passed bills with overwhelming majority votes to start addressing the rising cost of insulin. But negotiators were unable to come together on final language before the session ended.
It’s possible lawmakers may try to come back in a special session, although how to pay for it remains a sticking point. One plan had called for a fee on insulin makers, but Walz said last month that drug companies’ unwillingness to pay for the proposed emergency insulin program has been a big hurdle.
Walz on Monday reiterated that the insulin makers should pay for the cost of the emergency aid, that he wants a fee on manufacturers and that he would not call a special session unless a payment structure involving the companies is in place.
State Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, who was in on the talks with Little and other lawmakers, added more caution, saying the announcement of a deal was “premature. What we don’t agree on is the money source and how to make it sustainable, and those are not small matters.”
While they made progress around eligibility requirements and how a program would be administered, he said it was up to Walz and legislative leaders to finalize the deal and call a special session.
“Now it’s time for them to be a part of this. They have not been a part of this discussion,” he said. “We’ve put the ball in their court.”
Authors Gordon W. and Nancy A. Fredrickson write books to illustrate the ongoing relevance of agriculture, and their target audience is young children.
“We picked it up from the printer at Mankato about four weeks ago, and it’s been selling pretty well,” said Gordon. “It’s a very accessible book for young children.”
Added Nancy: “We had requests from customers for books aimed closer to toddlers than the kindergarten audience, and this book accomplishes that.”
“What Color are Tractors?” not only teaches children how to identify colors but shows them how to match the colors to elements of agriculture such as vegetables and weather. Children also gain exposure to tractors, which can be any color of the rainbow. Told with rhythm and meter, the picture book makes for easy reading and listening.
The Fredricksons are both well-versed in agriculture terminology. Gordon grew up on a small dairy farm in Scott County, and Nancy lived just 6 miles away. The two first met after Gordon served three years in the US Army and returned to Scott County. They married, and after Gordon landed his first teaching job, they bought a farm together. With Nancy as the main farmer, they raised animals like cattle and hogs and various crops. These days, the couple resides in Lonsdale.
Since the Fredricksons began writing farm-based stories in 2000, they’ve released 15 books and also delivered programs for schools, historical societies and banquets. They’ve shared their programs with over 50,000 children and adults. In 2014, the Collegiate Future Farmers of America at the University of Crookston awarded the Fredricksons an honorary Chapter FFA Degree for promoting agricultural literacy and using literature to preserve farm heritage.
Other books by Gordon and Nancy include the popular “If I Were a Farmer” series in which the main character is a child telling his or her animal what they would do if they were a farmer. Even adults reading the books to their children may learn a thing or two about farming from the glossary in the back.
Gordon also writes a series of historical non-fiction adult books on farming, such as “A Farm Country Harvest” and “A Farm Country Silo Filling.” The final installment of the series, “A Farm Country Haying,” will be released in 2020. This book will contain over 400 photographs of various haying techniques as well as over 100 haying stories and memories collected from farmers.
Another adult book, “Farm Country Moments: Poems, Pictures and Memories” features farm heritage poems by Gordon and contemporary photographs by Nancy as well as old photos she collected.
Having written books for adults before tackling a project for toddlers, Gordon said there are challenges either way.
“A lot of people think you can just toss out a book for kids in no time at all, but if you’re serious about teaching [children] anything, you really have to be careful about words,” said Gordon. “ …What makes it easier is the page count is low, but other than that the creativity and the hard work that goes in per page is really no less than an adult book.”
Now that “What Color are Tractors?” is published, the Fredricksons have new projects ahead for older readers.
Gordon wants to get a three-act drama produced, and he’s also working on poetry and chapter books for young adults and adults. These novels, set in the 1950s and ‘60s, will feature some of the same characters from his children’s books.
While helping her husband market his projects, Nancy is writing, with Gordon’s help, a memoir about growing up with a single mom in the 1950s.
Until they complete their works in progress, the Fredricksons continue to sell their published books at local events, like the Lonsdale Farmers Market. Up next: they plan to attend the Le Sueur County Pioneer Powers Threshing Show Aug. 23 through 25 for all three days.