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Post Bulletin
     April 30, 2018      #11-119 PB1
Our View: Logical next step for market: A

Have you emptied the gasoline from your snow blower? Hung the shovels at the back of the garage?

We haven’t, either. This is Minnesota, for crying out loud. Five years ago on Tuesday, 15 inches of snow fell in Rochester, more in Blooming Prairie and other towns. No need to get your hopes up yet.

But the first outdoor farmers market of the season is on Saturday, and that’s reason for cautious encouragement. The Rochester Downtown Farmers Market will open, rain, snow or shine, at 7:30 a.m. at Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue Southeast, and dozens of vendors are ready to go.

As it has through the winter months at Graham Arena, the market will have fresh, locally grown produce, meats, homemade bread, honey and other products you won’t find anywhere else.

What’s new this year is a drive to find a permanent home for the 33-year-old market. The current grounds, just across the Zumbro River from downtown, has served the community well, but DMC-related growth is coming and organizers are working with HGA Architects and a consultant to develop concepts for a permanent market.

How and where a market would be built are to be determined, but first comes the vision. The nonprofit Friends of the Farmers Market is working on that. Two weeks ago at Forager Brewing Co., about 80 people gathered to talk about how a permanent market would work.

There are plenty of examples, from the covered markets on North Lyndale in Minneapolis and in Lowertown St. Paul to more modest but attractive market areas in cities such as Eau Claire, Wis. And then there’s our namesake city in upstate New York, which has a public market that’s been in its current bricks-and-mortar location since 1905.

Farmers markets are gathering places that bring in people and vendors from all over, creating new businesses and the kind of lively, festival atmosphere that all cities are looking for. They’re community builders. They also make people’s lives better. The mission of the Rochester market, as noted on its logo, are to encourage people to “be healthy” and “buy local.”

There’s no better message for a city whose brand is health.

So far, it’s just an idea. The current area along Fourth Street and the river is ideal on a summer morning, though presents challenges for vendors and customers alike. But at age 33, the market has proven its value and its community support.

Downtown area property isn’t getting any cheaper. If the market is going to put down roots near the center of town — and we think it should — now’s the time to plant the seeds.

While that happens, take advantage of what we have, a thriving market with a great future, and please leave some asparagus and fresh Firebrick bread for late risers on Saturday.

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