Northland's small farms hoping for big growing season

By KBJR News 1

May 18, 2014 Updated May 18, 2014 at 9:48 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)

A jam session at a session for selling jam and all the other products small Northland farmers put out.
This is the Duluth Farmer's Market on East Third Street.
It's open for the season and none too soon for the people who depend on it to make a living.

"We actually have several people that make a living at this farm market. We have some part time vendors and farmers but we also have several people that make a living doing this. So, it's a huge thing for the community and really good for the local economy." said Lois Hoffbauer.

The crew from Spirit Lake Native Products is just one of the vendors.
Working the nearly open air market can range from cold to hot and so can the sales.
But, the folks selling wild rice and maple syrup like the work.

"I especially like meeting and talking with the people. I really like the customers who come back because they just need more of the product." said karen Savage-Blue.

That product takes a lot of coaxing and work to rise from the thin soil and short growing season of the Northland.
It's very weather dependent.

"Last year, Northland farmers were hampered by a late spring but aided by a warm summer. This year, we have another late spring but the forecast for the summer does look to be just a bit on the cool side." said Dave Anderson in a farm field as the farmers constructed a hoop house.

The National Weather Service's monthly outlooks for June and July indicate cooler than normal temperatures.
On the bright side, rain should be near normal.
Lois Hoffbauer of Farmer Doug's near Proctor hopes that temperature forecast turns out wrong since farmers have already had enough cold weather this year.

"I'm feeling optimistic. Even last year started slow but ended up to be a good year. I'm really feeling optimistic about this year also because it's got to get better. It can't get worse." said Hoffbauer.

In Duluth, Dave Anderson, KBJR 6 and Range 11.

Hungry customers looking to support a small farmer can find farmers markets all over the region.
There's two on the Vermilion Range and two on the Mesabi Range.
In Wisconsin, they can be found from Superior to Ashland.
In Michigan, though, you may have to travel all the way to Ontonagon.