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Cultural diversity, location key to growth of Midtown Public Market
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Market organizer Gerry Tyrrell buys a few things for dinner. (MPR Photo/Brandt Williams)
The Midtown Public Market is located at the intersection of two major streets and multiple cultures in South Minneapolis. The market is based in one of the most diverse areas of the state, home to growing populations of Asian, Latino and African immigrant communities. Organizers say they hope these immigrants will play a large role in the market's success.

Minneapolis, Minn. — On a weekday night at the Midtown Public Market, several dozen people are walking by tented produce stands. Some 20 tables are heaped full of locally produced meats, fruits and vegetables. Most of the produce is grown on farms in Minnesota or Wisconsin. However, Pompeyo Sanchez is selling coffee beans grown by his brother in Mexico.

"He is working with small farmers," says Sanchez. "So they don't use any pesticides. So it's fair trade coffee; organic."

Sanchez owns a coffee shop a few blocks away and on Tuesdays and Saturdays he sells baked goods and coffee beans at the market. Sanchez's wife and children are with him on this night. His young daughter handles the money, while his son works on his homework at a nearby table. Sanchez says they've attended other farmer's markets in other parts of town. However, he says he especially likes this spot.

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Image Elise Jensen

"The location is perfect," he says. "A lot of space. A lot of parking. A lot of friendly people."

Market organizer Gerry Tyrrell says the market is a result of a collaborative effort among seven neighborhoods and the Minneapolis Farmer's Market. He says the market's location, near the corner of Lake Street and Hiawatha - within sight of a light rail transit station - is key to its growth.

"The Tuesday markets are going to really do a lot of business from the light rail," says Terrell. "People coming home, getting off, switching to the buses, that type of thing. This is sort of the key intersection for why the market is really here."

The Hiawatha light rail line is scheduled to start up next April. Tyrrell says there are more vendors and more people at the market on Saturdays. He says more than a thousand people showed up last weekend. Besides produce vendors, the market features various workshops and musical acts.

Caitlin Reed is an intern who has been coordinating workshops and entertainment for the market. Today is her last day before she returns to school at Macalester college in St. Paul. She says she tries to organize workshops and activities for people of all ages.

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Image fruits and veggies

"Northern Clay Center is coming on Saturday to do free clay [workshops] -- you can make pottery and they'll fire it up for you and everything," says Reed. "So we kind of do artsy things too, for kids. It's a family kind of thing."

Shoppers pick over bushels of tomatoes, onions and melons. Some people, like Dominique Dixon are carrying bulging plastic bags full of goodies.

"We've got a lot of corn and some cabbage and watermelon and we got some of the honey that's over there," she says.

Dixon says she lives within walking distance of the market and has passed by it a couple of times, but this is the first time she's stopped by. Dixon says she made the trip for her mother.

"She loves watermelon," says Dixon. "So we had to get her another one."

She says the corn and cabbage will be for dinner and the watermelon for dessert.

"The watermelon will be gone before tomorrow," laughs Dixon.

The Midtown Public Market runs Tuesdays and Saturdays until October 29th.

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