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DL Farmers' Market is featured in MDA's Minnesota?Grown Directory for 2008

Many of Minnesota's approximately 100 markets have opened for business or will be opening soon. Consumers can find spring flowers, bedding plants, and early season vegetables like asparagus and rhubarb.

Locally, the Lakes Area Farmers' Market Cooperation in Detroit Lakes is featured in the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's (MDA) popular Minnesota Grown Directory.

Farmers' markets have become an increasingly popular way for consumers to receive their local produce, according to Paul Hugunin, marketing specialist with the MDA's Minnesota Grown Program.

"The number of farmers' markets listed in the annual Minnesota Grown Directory has nearly doubled in the past six years," said Hugunin. "In 2002, we had 45 farmers' markets in our directory, but this year we are proud to say we have more than 80 markets statewide."

Minnesota Farmers' Market Association President Ron Branch says one reason for the increased popularity of farmers' markets is the personal connection consumers can make with growers.

"Farmers' markets are not only a great place to buy fresh, wholesome and unique produce," Branch said. "This is an opportunity for consumers to learn more about farming, to connect with the producer and by buying locally, they help strengthen their communities."

Minnesota strawberry crop looks good

Strawberry farms in southern Minnesota and the Twin Cities Metro area recently began to open for pick-your-own berry customers.

Fans of locally grown strawberries in northern Minnesota can expect their season to begin roughly one to two weeks later than their southern Minnesota counterparts.

Although Minnesota's cool spring weather means that most berry farms are opening a week or two later than usual, early indications are that the strawberry crop is a very good one, according to Thaddeus McCamant, specialty crop instructor at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls.

"Strawberries like cool weather," said McCamant. "So while this weather has delayed the bloom, it is the best crop I've seen in a long time and pretty uniform across the regions."

MDA marketing specialist Paul Hugunin emphasizes that the late start means the season will likely extend later than usual.

"In most years, metro area strawberry picking is winding down by July 4, but this year that will be peak picking time, with excellent strawberry picking after the holiday as well," said Hugunin. "The best advice is always to call the farm or visit its website to verify picking conditions and hours.

"Picking conditions can vary from farm to farm and change from day to day depending on the weather, field conditions, and varieties."

Hugunin says blueberries and summer-bearing raspberries typically ripen near the end of strawberry season.

Finding and contacting a local berry farm is easy to do with the MDA's popular Minnesota Grown Directory. The 2008 Directory includes 88 strawberry growers statewide along with nearly 700 orchards, farmers' markets, garden centers and other locations where consumers can purchase products directly from the farmer.

Minnesotans can easily find their local market by using the Minnesota Grown Directory at, or they can order a free printed copy by calling 1-888-TOURISM.

Consumers can also find berry recipes and storage tips by visiting the latest Pick of the Month newsletter at The free electronic newsletter makes it easy for consumers to know what's in season and where to find locally grown foods, plants and fun farm-based family activities.