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Minnesota Farmers' Market Association 

Video of 2021 Gus Schumacher Awards:

Recipient of the 2021 Farmers Market Coalition Gus Schumacher Award

Minnesota, March, 2021—The Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association's Executive Director, Kathy Zeman, is one of two nationwide recipients of the 2021 Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) Gus Schumacher Award for leadership during COVID to Minnesota farmers’ markets, for their assistance to peers around the United States, and to FMC.

According to FMC Executive Director Ben Feldman, the award is named in honor of former Farmers Market Coalition board member Gus Schumacher to recognize individuals who exemplify Gus’ tireless work to bring fresh, local food to Americans of all income levels and backgrounds. “Honorees demonstrate Gus’ people-first approach to building coalitions to support farmers' market success,” stated Feldman.

According to Feldman, farmers’ markets nationwide fought to make the case for their essential nature in the early days of COVID.  “Information was hard to come by, guidance from officials at the local, state, and national level was confusing and often contradictory,” stated Feldman. “But in Minnesota as soon as the reality of the situation became clear, Kathy was on the phone with the Minnesota Agricultural Commissioner and as a result, farmers’ markets in Minnesota were appropriately recognized as essential businesses from day one and were valued for their role in safely distributing food at a time when retail supply chains were struggling.” MFMA provided weekly virtual meetings to stakeholders, educated markets on best practices regarding COVID health and safety measures, and worked diligently to keep markets open.

Zeman accepted the award at the Farmers Market Pro’s InTents Virtual Conference on Thursday, March 18th.  According to Zeman, this award is a true accolade for MFMA and all their partners in the Minnesota local foodshed. “Our team here in Minnesota is really deep. We have worked closely with many local food ag organizations, state agencies, and other partners over the past year to ensure our food farmers and food makers thrived so they could feed their neighbors and communities through this pandemic,” stated Zeman. So this acknowledgement by the National Farmers Market Coalition of Minnesota’s leadership in the local foodshed during COVID-19 goes to many:

  • The hundreds of farmers’ market managers and vendors who jumped on weekly calls throughout the year starting back in March 2020, as we problem solved in real time how to keep our markets open so our local farmers could sell the food they were already growing to the people in their neighborhoods – all the while learning and implementing safety measures so vendors & customers could stay safe & healthy
  • MFMA’s Board of Directors, located throughout Minnesota, who are our eyes and ears, keeping a statewide flow of communications going
  • Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Thom Petersen and his entire team for wrapping their arms around all levels of Minnesota food production, listening to and understanding our needs, and freeing up grant monies for markets to buy safety supplies
  • Annalisa Hultberg, University of Minnesota Food Safety, who helped us write all of our COVID-19 guidance; she provided the perfect nerdy balance between science and understandable education
  • Jane Jewett, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, who answered a Sunday email asking for quick help to provide the math every market needed to figure out what their maximum occupancy capacity was based on 6-feet separation and their market square footage; she gave us the magic number and her methodology so we could share with municipalities who needed confirmation
  • MDA’s Jeff Luedeman and MDH’s Susan Bishop, our state agency contact people who helped clarify executive orders for farmers’ markets
  • MN OSHA who quickly reviewed our COVID-19 preparedness plans to make sure we were thinking through the steps to keep everyone at market safe
  • The alphabet soup of collaborating local food ag organizations who mobilized and filled in wherever needed: MFU, SFA, RTC, RSDPs, TGA, TRP, etc.

“To the millions of Minnesotans who shopped at local farmers’ markets in 2020, supported local food farmers and food makers, masked up, washed hands, and supported our efforts to stay healthy and stay open—thank you!” adds Zeman.

The other Gus Schumacher recipient was Stephanie Fenty, former manager of operations and strategic engagement at the Farmers Market Coalition for her development of membership systems, toolkits, and overall contributions to FMC.

MFMA provides services, programs, and leadership that support and promote farmers' markets

across Minnesota and our Tribal Nations.

We envision a community of vibrant, profitable, and professionally managed Minnesota farmers’ markets that:

Cultivates, nourishes, and inspires a vibrant local foods community;

provides accessibility to all to local farm fresh foods;

allows local food producers to thrive and grow.

Engagement & Inclusion Director: Sina War /// /// (612) 695-6587 

Local Foodshed Database Manager: Maeve Mallozzi-Kelly /// /// (574) 310-5553

Executive Director: Kathy Zeman /// /// (507) 664-9446 

Minnesota Farmers' Market Association /// 9800 155th Street East, Nerstrand MN 55053 /// 


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