Facing financial challenges, Minneapolis Public schools will relocate Anishinabe Academy and sell, in the coming months, the 6.5 acre 2225 East Lake Street and several other school-owned properties. Situated between a light rail station and fitness center, 2225 Lake has also hosted the citizen-created, all-local Midtown Farmers' Market since 2003.
A growing citizen movement is underway to create a permanent home at 2225 East Lake for the Midtown Farmersí Market, and participants include many of the residents who made locally-grown food a cornerstone of the plan for future redevelopment shared by the neighborhood and the City of Minneapolis, just a year before the Market opened in 2003.
"This site is the ideal place for a farmersí market," says volunteer Gerry Tyrrell, "between the YWCA health center and the intersection of Hiawatha light rail transit, the Midtown Greenway, and East Lake Street," the Minneapolis artery whose immigrant entrepreneurial energy is reflected by the Midtown Farmersí Marketís diverse 70+ annual farmers and vendors.
A crossroads of opportunity
So, given this shared neighborhood-city vision, why have hundreds signed a petition, and why did 130 gather at a resident's home on February 22, to support a permanent home for the Midtown Farmers' Market at 2225 East Lake? And why did lawmakers outnumber residents at a March 10 meeting at the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization, to discuss possible solutions? And why did a March 25 article in the Star Tribune carry a sense of urgency for the Market site?
Support for Midtown, a thriving all-local farmers' market, is unquestionable. But its future cannot be guaranteed by land use plans, or by city zoning or pledges from politicians, alone.
The school district needs to obtain full market value for the entire propertyóa point no one will argue, and while any future development at 2225 East Lake will need and benefit from open community space, a private developer with the means to purchase the land may not feel compelled to accommodate a farmers' market, despite Midtown's proven social and economic value and popularity. On the other hand, a potential public investment from state or federal coffers may be restricted, or difficult to access on a time frame that fits the school district's plans.
So collaborative action is needed, and the strong public support for the Midtown Farmersí Market drew school, city, state, and county policy makers to a meeting with Corcoranís Land Use & Transportation Committee on March 10. There they agreed that the solution may be complicated, but it is possible. It is possible, but it will require more than words. It is possible, and it will require collaborative action between lawmakers and citizens.
Readers, please ask your local lawmakers to support a permanent home for the Midtown Farmersí Market at its home of six seasons:
Council Member Gary Schiff, Mayor R.T. Rybak, State Representative Jim Davnie, State Senator Patricia Torres Ray, and County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin.
At this time, Corcoranís Land Use & Transportation Committee is also engaging with key site stakeholders and local developers to explore redevelopment scenarios for 2225 East Lake.
The school district has generously pledged to make 2225 East Lake available to Midtown for its upcoming May-October season, which opens Saturday, May 2 at 8:00 a.m. To learn more about the market, please contact manager David Nicholson.
To get involved in the citizen effort to preserve a permanent site for the Midtown Farmers' Market, please contact Eric Gustafson or Amy Arcand at CNO.