Monday, June 19, 2017

1031 Ways to Enjoy Minnesota Summers

Phyllis Louise Harris
June 2017

My first job other than babysitting was picking raspberries for 5 cents a pint. At age 13 this was a big deal because my weekly allowance was 50 cents.  On a good day I could earn $1.20 for four hours of picking and while the season lasted only a few weeks it was still more money than I had ever earned. The best part of the job was at the end of the season the grower allowed pickers to keep the berries they picked and I could sell them for 30 cents a pint! My grandmother canned a lot of raspberries that year and I had never felt so rich.

While the prices have changed, the opportunities for picking your own raspberries abound in Minnesota. Not only raspberries but also strawberries, blueberries, peas, beans, tomatoes, apples, and a variety of home grown produce and locally made products. But those are only a few of the opportunities available from local growers and producers. You can even stomp grapes in the fall at some wineries if that is your wish or how about popping corn right off the cob.

In fact, Minnesota has more than 1031 places to enjoy homegrown food and locally made products all carefully catalogued in this year’s Minnesota Grown Directory. It is free to you from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture at .

If picking your own food sounds like too much work visit any of the state’s 180 farmer’s markets where everything is already freshly picked just waiting for you to take home. They are open all over the state featuring strawberries, peas, beans, greens, mushrooms, flowers and so much more. Next month it will be blueberries, raspberries, corn and tomatoes. Then apples, pumpkins and fall root vegetables.

One of my favorite local markets is the Mill City Market next to the Guthrie Theater open Saturday mornings with a wide variety of produce, products, entertainment and educational programs. Visit the museum next door and take a tour of the flourmill. It is a real eye-opener. Another Saturday morning favorite is the Northeast Market on University Avenue and 7th NE. It is small, easy to walk through and has a wide variety of choices. The Minneapolis and St. Paul Farmers Markets are always packed with shoppers so I like going to the smaller ones for easier access. Or check out the markets across the state. You might also plan a trip or two to the 41 wineries in the state or the 600 vineyards growing special Minnesota grapes for award-winning wine. Want to live on a farm for a few days? You can with farmstays.

You never know what you will find once you start looking around and that is really the best part. One Saturday at the St. Cloud Farmers Market I found a beautiful bunch of sweet peas, a flower I had not seen since I was a child. The unmistakable perfume was a wonderful reminder of the past and of course I had to buy them and take them home.

So from Ada to Zumbrota travel the state and enjoy the wonderful, bountiful beauty of  Minnesota homegrown everything! Or just stay home and check out local markets. Happy summer!!


Read more about Asian food in Minnesota and try more than 160 recipes in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, in bookstores and on

Buy online: Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875

Watch the EMMY® award winning “Asian Flavors” television show based on the book on tpt MN. Check local TV listings for broadcast times or view the show streaming online at: