Note to our readers: This column is part of a series from a blog recently started by a loosely knit independent group of area business people and residents who love and want to promote the energy and enthusiasm of downtown St. Joseph: The Joe Town Vibe. To find the column online or to read web-exclusive blogs posted every Tuesday please visit joetownvibe.com.
by John Stevens
Intern SJU ’18
The St. Joseph Farmers’ Market was one of the first farmers’ markets in central Minnesota. Unlike other markets started in the area, St. Joseph’s market was started by a group of community members, instead of farmers. That distinction is still evident today as the market’s board consists of three community members and six farmers. This structure has been passed on to many other farmers’ markets throughout the area.
Nearly 20 years ago, the first farmers’ market in St. Joseph was launched on a Friday afternoon. Initially, the market was set up on the often-hot asphalt parking lot of what was then the Del-Win Ballroom, just off CR 75 on Second Street SE. After several years it was moved closer to town at its current location at Resurrection Lutheran Church on CR 2, with the Friday afternoon timing remaining constant. More recently, the farmers’ market started hosting occasional indoor markets during the winter months.
While Resurrection Lutheran Church has been a gracious host of the event these past several years, the board has been considering moving the event’s location. The board’s main consideration in moving the market is how to best serve the entire community while continuing to build profits for farmers. Moving the market may make the event more accessible and bring in a larger crowd, but studies have shown location changes to farmers’ markets also cause some regular visitors to stop coming.
This has been a debate within the board for years, with some members arguing for a move, and others arguing for the market to stay in place as it’s already quite successful. Through the debate, several locations have been presented as possibilities for the market: Minnesota Street between College Avenue and First Avenue NW, Ash Street between College Avenue and First Avenue NW, First Avenue between Minnesota Street and Birch Street, and in the southeast parking lot on the Corner of Minnesota Street and College Avenue.
All the proposed locations have their fair share of benefits and problems. Ultimately, the board has elected to not move the market for the time being. However, they are strongly considering a move by 2020 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the market. Next week, I will be addressing various reasons why the market should move to the downtown area. Stay tuned!
Special thanks to Pia Lopez and Kate Ritger, who are two of the community members on the farmers’ market board.