Farmers Market Veterans Share Their Story 

by | Jun 2018

Buy local produce for fresh ingredients or use as a beautiful tablescape centerpiece.

Buy local produce for fresh ingredients or use as a beautiful tablescape centerpiece. Photo: The Mau Family

The Maple Grove Farmers Market provides locally grown produce to the community, and a lot of talent is hidden behind each stand. John and Anna Mau were some of the founding vendors when the market opened in 2003, making them seasoned veterans at this point in time.

While being surrounded by farms and cornfields as he grew up, as well as helping friends with a produce business as a teenager, John soon became interested in mastering full-time farming in 2002. Leasing land from friends in Jordan and Winsted, the endeavor has proved successful, and bounties are gathered year after year. Enough produce is now grown to supply their stalls at three farmers markets throughout the western suburbs of Minneapolis, with the remaining surplus going to local food shelves.

When visiting the market, keep a lookout for the Mau stand, where a variety of items can be found depending on the time of year. In the early and late spring opening markets, vegetable and herb seedlings are provided for purchase. In early to mid-summer, a wide variety of vegetables are grown, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet onions, green beans, cucumbers and zucchini. In mid- to late summer, colored peppers, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, sweet corn and melons make an appearance. Fall crops include late season cabbage and different types of cauliflower. Late season brings a large selection of winter squash and ornamentals like gourds and harvest corn.

When asked to give advice to those interested in farming or gardening both John and Anna stress that doing research is one of the most important details. Other suggestions include taking classes offered from the Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (MFVGA), becoming a member of the Minnesota Farmers Market Association (MFMA) and becoming a Minnesota Grown vendor. It is best to start with one well-run market like Maple Grove’s and focus on growing the business from there.

After gathering knowledge and experience from more than 16 years of full-time farming, John and Anna love answering any and all questions from customers about their produce and farming practices. It is promised that information is happily shared with open and honest answers, ensuring each product is at its prime. For example, the family farm uses the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, meaning diverse crops are rotated regularly, resistant varieties are planted when available and crops are monitored carefully, so spraying can be kept at a minimum.

Tending to farmers markets has become quite the family affair as everyone is dedicated to making each season successful—whether that is by assisting with farming duties or running the market stalls. The Mau family is incredibly fortunate to have dedicated family members, who value the growing process, have excellent work ethic and enjoy the market atmosphere. The markets have become more than places to sell produce; it has become an important place for the family to spend time together, participating in something they love.

Throughout their time at the market, John and Anna have built and flourished many different friendships with both customers and vendors, making each season an enjoyable, unforgettable experience.

Maple Grove Farmers market
The outdoor season begins 3–7 p.m. June 7 at the Maple Grove Community Center


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