Twin Cities Farmers' Markets
I have fallen in love with the Midtown Farmer's Market on 22nd and Lake. The crepe stand is out of this world, I get good deals of flower bouquets, a couple of stands have excellent pepper selection. A few stands have been selling squash blossoms, and baby squash with the blossoms still on. It's easy to get in and out of there, too - parking lot isn't the zoo that the downtown Lyndale Ave one is.
I still like the downtown one, though. With a collection of vendors that large, it has its place. I think I find the best herb deals there.
MIll City is also nice, but more for the prepared food selection than for actual produce.
Those are the three I frequent.
My favorite is the downtown St. Paul market. I really like their focus on local foods-- I used to go the Mpls one when I lived there and was annoyed by seeing things like bananas. Sure, a farmer somewhere grew them... but nowhere near here.
The St. Paul one, I find, has a good variety of produce plus very fine meat, eggs, cheese, honey, jam, etc. I have only just started to explore all the meat vendors and am having lots of fun with local bacon, grass-fed steaks, and so on. The one I don't like about it is how freaking crowded it can get! I try to go early to get around this.
I work near downtown Minneapolis and sometimes go to the downtown market on Thursdays. I don't buy a lot at once, but I have a few favorite vendors-- appleberry farms for berries and jam, dehn's for herbs, and Pflaum's (and occasionally others) for vegetables. I get a weekly CSA box, but often use this market to fill in things I need but that did not come in the box.
I agree about the downtown MPLS FM. There are certainly local vendors to be found there, but a lot comes in from who knows where. You have to be careful. I like the Dehn's booth for herbs - it's the one vendor of things I buy that is most unique to the downtown one.
You should give the Midtown market at try some time for variety. I am not 100% positive, but I am relative sure that all the food is locally grown there. It's a really lovely market.
I have never made it to the St. Paul market. I really should do that before it's too late.
Mill City is our favorite. Local, mostly organic, the baked goods are great, and it's close to our place. This year we've gotten fresh local morels, ramps, leeks, beans and so many other treats. Plus, it's nice to stop and have a bloody at Spoonriver beforehand.
NE Farmers Market on University is also great as we love the fresh veggies as well as the prepared foods local folks sell. Emily's (or folks that work/worked there) sometimes have a booth and we enjoy some tabouli while we shop.
I also like the downtown MPLS market as it just makes Nicollet come alive. Usually the stomping ground of frowning smokers, on Thursdays you get all kids of folks looking at flowers and herbs and generally smiling and enjoying all the goods. I'm particularly fond of the hot beef sticks.
I'm also a fan of the St. Paul market. There's weekday markets at different locations (including a Friday one at St. Lukes near where I live), but my favorite time to go is to the main market on Sunday morning. It's not crowded and there's lots of lovely things there. I really like knowing that all the food is local, takes the guesswork out of it.
I don't have a favorite produce vendor there, but I've always been happy with what I've gotten.
I like Mill City, but agree I'm more likely to look for prepared foods there.
I really need to check out the Midtown Farmer's Market, especially the crepe stand.
i like mill city too. as foureyes mentions it is a more sustainable ag market. lots of small & emerging farms & businesses that i feel good about supporting. i think loon organics (they intensively market-garden a small area of the gardens of eagen spread) has some of the best fresh local produce available. there are often nice berries and heritage or gourmet veggies at the market that can sell out early. there is usually a chef demo or musical performance so its somewhat more of a "fair" atmosphere.
i miss not living kitty corner from the st. paul farmer's market, which probably has the best selection of local veggies and meats. st paul is a great market & i greatly prefer it to the big mpls market, which seems so crowded and picked-over.