The St. Paul Farmer’s Market in Lowertown is one of my favorite summer activities. I try to block off my Saturday mornings every chance I get so I can sneak downtown for an hour or two and get my fix. Lately, I have had some feedback on my Snapchat and Instagram, people wanting advice, or to tag along on my SPFM adventures. I thought I should take a minute to share my top five SPFM faves!
Breakfast sandwiches made with Farmer’s Marke ham, eggs, and veggies, this is probably my number one reason for going to the market. I mean, I do love the other treats and trinkets I pick up in Lowertown but the Market Special Bagel Sandwiches are to die for! My go-to order is the Market Favorite: Fried Egg Swiss & Cream Cheeses, Ham, Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion and Cucumber on an Asiago Bagel. It’s a real treat having your meal made right in front of you with some of the freshest ingredients around. Trust me you will never look at breakfast the same after one bite of these masterpieces. Topped off with their Cold Brew coffee or better yet their housemade squeezed on the spot lemonade, there is nothing like it around town. Read their story and check out their website for more information on these irresistible sandwiches.
Every year I try more and more from this stellar stand. What started as little blocks of Beeswax (one of my favorite smells) expanded into their Cinnamon Creamed Honey (still my favorite snack EVER!) I recently got my friend Midwest Mom Blog hooked on the stuff. Everyone who tries their Cinnamon Creamed Honey goes absolutely nuts for it. I love it in my tea or on crackers and toast. When you get a sweet tooth but don’t want to sugar-load there is nothing better than a spoonful of this stuff.
The Honey Sticks are great to keep the little ones (or whiney boyfriends) occupied as you stroll the isles.
Their Raw Honey (I’m partial to their Clover Honey) has become part of my daily routine. I have a spoonful of it daily and it is a lifesaver when allergy season is in full swing. I recently grabbed a big bottle of their bee pollen. I haven’t tried it yet, still trying to find a way to incorporate it into my routine, I’m thinking mixed into my smoothies might be a great way?
I haven’t tried any of the lotions or salves yet but I am convinced that Aspen Ridge Honey Farm can do no wrong.
3. Fresh Flower Stands
Gorgeous and cheap! what would cost you between 30-60 dollars at any flower shop is readily available by the truckloads for under 10 bucks! Each aisle has a few vendors but my favorite is usually the stand at the corner of 5th St. E and Wall St.
I will warn those looking to bring home a bouquet or two. GET THERE EARLY! It doesn’t matter what stand you go to things will start to get very picked over around 9/10 o’clock. These flowers like everything else in the market are seasonal. Just when you think it is too late in the year to get flowers the vendors to surprise you with some of the most amazing autumn arrangements around.
Also, it helps if you make your flowers the last stop of the day, you will have your hands full with these large arrangements and it makes it difficult to do other shopping.
4. Non-GMO Organic Corn
We buy this stuff by the boatload. Well, not really but we do try to take home a dozen or two each time. We will bring the corn home, boil and freeze it for some of the best cooking year-round. Once you give this a try you will never be able to get the canned stuff or the bags in the freezer section of your local grocer again. Trust me the quality fresh stuff makes all the difference in a recipe and it only takes 20 min to get you stocked for a couple months.
This was a new discovery for me this year. I have seen the stand in the past but walked by without much interest. A couple weeks ago my mom wanted to try a sample. That’s all it took, one little thimble full of this liquid gold and we were hooked! We decided to buy a bottle to bring home and when asked what flavor we would be interested in we answered “Bourbon!” in unison, like mother like daughter I guess. Since that day I have tried to incorporate this amazing concoction into every dessert, dinner, and snack. I am really looking forward to going back and trying other great flavors.
6. Live Music
Every time I go to the market there is some sort of folksy group or individual performing in the center of all the chaos. It is such a pleasant way to spend your morning shopping for something so cheerful. Usually, you can find small groups of children twirling and squealing with delight as their elders stand by and clap or tap their feet along with the rhythm of the music, everyone’s faces stretched in wide grins.
7. Quality Produce
With such a variety your options can be overwhelming. I would recommend putting together a list of items that you need for one or two meals throughout your next week and shop around that list. You get a lot of bang for your buck so get extra and do some kitchen experimenting. I’ve even seen a stand where the lettuce is still growing in boxes when they cut it for you, with ingredients as fresh and delicious as these there is no way you can go wrong.
8. Farmer’s Advice
When you are doing your shopping talk to the vendors! Many of the farmers will have some sort of literature to hand out with information on where their product is from and how it is developed. Also, you can snag a few suggestions or better yet recipes and fan favorites. The people working there are passionate about what they do, let them share that knowledge and passion with you and you will come out on top every time.
Tricks and Tips
Go Early!!! I can’t stress this enough. I know it’s your weekend and it’s your day to sleep in but the early bird gets the worm has never been truer than in this situation. The market is open Saturday and Sunday from 6am-1pm April 30-November 19th.
This is a local farmer’s market which means the selection is seasonal so plan your recipes and shopping lists accordingly. You won’t be finding Asparagus in August so don’t waste your time.
Bring bags. The vendors will have plastic sacks for you but your arms will fill up quickly and you’ll be miserable trying to juggle armfuls of items while navigating the crowds.
Be patient. It is visual overload and everyone is excited. Many people will zero in on an item they want and forget to watch where they are going. Stay calm and take your time everyone is there to have a good time.
Unless you are one of those jerks that bring a stroller… I have a deep-seated hate for you people! I love that you are bringing the family and getting everyone excited but the stroller is a means of transportation to make your life easier, please don’t use it as a weapon to cut through crowds. Come on we all know I’m just saying what everyone is thinking.
Set a budget and stick to your list. I often get caught up in the moment and overbuy. Not fun for my wallet and often I can’t eat everything before it spoils. Don’t worry the market will be back next week and you can get more or try new things that you may have missed or passed on before.
Parking. Most of the meters in the Lowertown area have a two-hour farmers market special. If you are lucky enough to snag a meter you usually won’t have to pay for the first two hours.
Enjoy the surrounding bars and restaurants. Farmers’ markets promote a great sense of community, support local and grab a mimosa and tots at The Bulldog or a Bloody Mary at the Ox Cart Rooftop! You won’t be disappointed and it is a great way to wrap up a perfect summer morning.