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Tasting day at 3rd Annual Farmer's Market in New York Mills draws a crowd

Pat Fredley, coordinator of the New York Mills Farmers' Market, displays her items during Tasting Day. Alongside her pickles, relishes and vegetables, she brought unique jams, including carrot cardamom, rhubarb chutney, ginger zucchini and blueberry-lime for visitors to taste. Roughly one-hundred visitors came, vendors noted. Photo by Christopher Michalski/FOCUS

People who visited the Farmer's Market in New York Mills this past weekend were up for delectable treats.

Some of the unusual items people were offered to taste were lemon cucumbers, pickled green beans, zucchini relish, ginger zucchini jam, and spiced pumpkin butter.

Families who brought children to the market were gifted with "Minnesota Grown Helps Me Grow! A Farmers' Market Cookbook for Parents and Kids".

Colene Jacobson from New York Mills brought along a popcorn popper for visitors to munch on while browsing her array of peppers, tomatoes, and cabbage. Her breads were a mix of pumpkin raisin, apricot prune, and zucchini pineapple, accompanied by her cranberry scones and blueberry oatmeal muffins.

Shirley Goins, born and raised in NY Mills, started her own garden for personal use and it grew bigger every year, she said. Her children Stephanie and Ray help her in her garden, and she has now started coming to Farmers' Markets five days a week. This was her third year in NY Mills.

Her son Ray does the tilling for the garden and has now started his own plants. Stephanie plants, picks, and cans for the family. "When you're all together in the garden it's a great time to get together and talk," Shirley said. "The Farmers' Market in New York Mills is a great way to meet new people and catch up with old friends"

On one occasion, Goins ran into a former classmate, David Peach, who she hadn't seen for fifty-three years.

One gentleman who was not present this weekend was Harvey Vage, who usually visits the market with farm-fresh eggs. This week, he didn't have enough to bring to the market. One person pointed out, "Since the salmonella scare, people have been buying them right off the farm."

A vast amount of melons were available for visitors to try through Bahr's Melons. The farmer, Dana Bahr, has been growing them for over thirty years. Lesley Bahr attended the tasting event on behalf of Bahr's Melons. "I like seeing the market in New York Mills. I've always been fond of this community," she said.

The farm mostly does wholesale now, and one would likely be buying some of Bahr's Melons at retail outlets. The farm sells wholesale to Grass Roots, J&B in Park Rapids, Dean's in Perham, Central Market in Detroit Lakes, Blue Bird Gardens in Fergus Falls, among others, she said.

She brought along one unusual melon, which is more like a cantaloupe but sweeter. The Persian melon has green flesh and is sweeter and juicier than a cantaloupe.

Debbie Fisher, owner of Bloomer's A&K Greenhouse, has been attending the Farmers' Market in NY Mills for three years. Her sister, Diane Matson, is coordinator of Perham's Market.

"I'd recommend both markets to anybody who likes home canned products and vegetables. People are all so friendly in Perham, New York Mills, and Menahga." Fisher said.

Jaime Duke of Menahga made the trip out to the NY Mills market for its tasting day. "I've never been to New York Mills or the market before. It was worth the trip. I had a great time and loved everything."

Also visiting the market was Christa Perala, who finds time to garden and can while attending markets on Saturdays. Her daughter, Ella, helps her and her husband Jeremy. Christa will need all the help she can get next year when she triples the size of her garden.

"Today was a nice day with the tastings because you see a lot of people you normally don't see. Some people are regulars and come back for their favorites," she said.

She also raises chickens, ducks, and geese, on top of her tomatoes, squashes, pumpkins, jams, jellies, pickles, and relishes. "This is my hobby," she said. "When I get home from work, I'm right in the garden or canning. It certainly keeps one busy."

The first market held in NY Mills was in 2008. Pat Fredley, event coordinator, joined one of the committees for the market. One of the ideas behind the market was to promote the agricultural heritage of the community, she noted. The estimated timeline to get the project together was over one year, but vendors and organizers were able to get it going in under six months.

"There were so many people here today," Fredley said. "We do our best to bring some of the more unusual jams, jellies, vegetables and specialty items people won't find in stores or at other markets."

Vendors estimated at least 100 people attended the event.

The Farmers' Market in New York Mills is held on Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For special requests, or information about the market, please contact Pat Fredley at 218-385-2187.