Mac McCumber stands behind his table filed with canned goods, including jars of what he calls “the world’s best salsa.” DAVID STOEGER/NEWS-RECORD
Mac McCumber stands behind his table filed with canned goods, including jars of what he calls “the world’s best salsa.” DAVID STOEGER/NEWS-RECORD
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You can never be sure what you will find at the Simple Living Farmers Market on Saturday mornings in Mabel. Vendors at the market are offering everything from fresh produce to homemade baked good to handcrafted bird feeders - along with a sense of community. This year, the market hopes to offer produce grown on site along with educational opportunities.

Upon entering the market on Saturday, May 3, a local craftsman, Gary Dahlberg, was found showing off some of his wood carved mushrooms, barn quilts and bird feeders. "He loves to design stuff - he makes all the planters...he can make almost anything," said Gary's wife, Nancy.

Stroll to the next vendor and one will find canned goods and the "world's best salsa" being sold by Mac McCumber.

At the next table is Laurie Wendel with her family, selling baked goods, plants and canned goods. "This is my out," Wendel said. "I really like the people - it's fun to visit and all that - you meet so many new people."

"We have a little bit of everything," said vendor Sue Roppe, who is in her first year of selling at the market.

"It has been pretty good," she said of her experience at the market so far.

On site gardening opportunities

One of many new opportunities this year at the market is using about one acre of land on the grounds to grow produce on site. Not only will the produce be sold at the market, but a portion will be given to the local food shelf and the land itself will be used to demonstrate the various techniques of growing produce.

Market President Kathy Newman explained that the demonstration gardening that will take place on that piece of land will include demonstrations from how to plant a garden to companion planting to how to do a raised bed. Also, she noted, "Virginia Karlsbroten does a wonderful Florida Weave, what they call the three sisters technique of planting," which will also be demonstrated.

Kathy's son, Bill Newman, who has developed his own passion for gardening, will be overseeing the project. "It is going to be chemical free as much as we can make it," she said. "What we'd like to do is take a couple of boxes of produce up to the food shelf each week...and use it as an educational tool but also a production garden. This space is available so we're going to take advantage off it.

"Being able to show that you can go out, pick your dinner and in 10 minutes have a meal is phenomenal," Bill added about the educational opportunities with the on-site garden and the farmers market.

Coming events

Coming events at the market include Mother's Day shopping this Saturday with vendors offering plants, flowers and baskets with free coffee and treats for all.

Kathy Newman will demonstrate tomato grafting on May 17 that will build disease resistance and flavor.

On May 24 and 31, the market will feature live music.

The market is in its third year and is located one quarter-mile west of Mabel on Highway 44 on property owned by Fred and Trudy Horihan, who allow the market to use their land.

If one is interested in being a vendor at the Simple Living Farmers Market, contact Kathy Newman at (507) 429-5451 or email redhousegardens@gmail.com. The group also has a Facebook page that is updated regularly.