PRAIRIE COUNTRY: Gardening is a labor of love for Sue Bruggeman
CROOKSTON -- Picking, picking, picking. Loading, loading, loading. That's how Sue Bruggeman describes her Saturday morning routine during farmers' market season. Bruggeman is one of about a dozen members of the Crookston Farmers Market Associatio...
CROOKSTON -- Picking, picking, picking. Loading, loading, loading.
That's how Sue Bruggeman describes her Saturday morning routine during farmers' market season. Bruggeman is one of about a dozen members of the Crookston Farmers Market Association who will be selling produce and other homemade items at the market on Saturday.
Saturday's Crookston Farmers Market, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Crookston Central High School parking lot, is the last one of the season and features late-season produce.
"We do a pumpkin festival and have kids' activities," Bruggeman said. Besides garden produce she also will have jams and jellies for sale.
Bruggeman, a rural Crookston gardener, will sell more than a half dozen flavors of jam and jelly, including strawberry, peach and hot pepper. She didn't have an exact count of the number of pints she made, but did note she used 200 pounds of sugar to make her jellies and jams.
"Whatever's fresh and looks nice, it goes into a jar," Bruggeman said, with a laugh. "I can tomato juice. I make spaghetti sauce. I make salsa. There's no limit to your imagination of what you can put in a jar.
"My grandson likes to go down the basement into my pantry and 'go shopping.' "
For Bruggeman harvesting and canning the produce or selling the cornucopia of fresh vegetables and fruit is a labor of love.
"I've always liked to garden. At first I did it to feed my family; with young kids at home and the quality of the food it was a good thing."
Now that Bruggeman's children are grown and have families of their own, she enjoys gardening with her grandchildren.
"When the pumpkins start turning, they're the first ones to go in the garden and get one," she said.
Gardening not only is fun, but a way to teach people about the origin of their food, Bruggeman said. For example, her grandson Carter Bruggeman, 5, learned a few years ago potatoes don't come from the grocery store.
"The first year he was old enough to understand he went out with grandpa to pick potatoes and he was so surprised they were under the ground."
The Crookston Farmers Market Association, formed two years ago, also aims to teach people the benefits of buying food that is fresh and local, Bruggeman said. For one thing, locally grown food is more nutritious
"It helps our local economy," Bruggeman said, noting that members of the farmers market strive to buy locally, too. Meanwhile, the fresh produce is more nutritious than fruits and vegetables that have been shipped for long distances. It also often is better quality, she said.
"We take pride in growing fresh stuff for our customers."
Crookston Farmers Market Association members also take pride in delivering food that's newly picked.
"It's usually up early Saturday morning picking because I like to be fresh," Bruggeman. After the morning of harvesting, it's time to load up and head to the market.
"I have a Ford Explorer with a trailer behind. I stuff as much in there as I can."
Besides pumpkins, apples, gourds, squash tomatoes, potatoes, jelly and jam, Bruggeman also will sell straw bales for people who want to use them as shelters for dogs, cover their perennials or fall decorations. Other people will offer traditional and organic bread, bagels and soaps for sale.
The Crookston Farmers Market is growing each year, Bruggeman said.
"This year was better than last year and we hope next year is better than this year."
Bailey writes for special features sections. Reach her at (701) 787-6753; (800) 477-6572, ext. 753; or send e-mail to email@example.com .