Somehow the chicken-and-egg analogy befits a bio of Wendy Hueber, founder and manager of the Village Farmer’s Market, opening July 12 in the old St Anthony Village shopping center on Hwy 88. The question that Wendy has had to ponder the dilemma of Which comes first, the community or the farmer’s market.
Wendy knew that people who live near the juncture of Highway 88/New Brighton Boulevard and Kenzie Terrace and Pentagon and Silver Lake Boulevard (check the map!) needed a farmer’s market.
What she recognized was that they needed a community with arms spread wide enough
to embrace folks from St. Anthony, New Brighton, Northeast Minneapolis, and beyond in
every direction. Though the Hennepin County Library maintains a presence at The
Village, neighbors had lost a couple of coffee shops, several shopping outlets, and any gathering locus for neighbors to congregate at a juncture where county and municipal lines, political boundaries, school districts, and traffic patterns converge. Where, she asked, do the residents come together?
So she set out to build not just a farmer’s market, but a community. around the market, or a market for a community. With no community-based organization to serve as an umbrella, Wendy saw that the VFM would need to build a viable nonprofit organization to support the market. And thus began the labor-intensive process of board development, by-laws, officers, plans, budgets, and more.
A community demands communications networks – thus the VFM website and blog, a
robust network that encourages interaction among residents, vendors, shoppers and
the community at large. Adding frosting to the communication cake Wendy has just
arranged for a Twitter account so that shoppers can tweet and meet their friends without missing a beat or a bargain.
One of the requirements for any nonprofit is that the organization tend to learning
opportunities. A unique feature of the Village Farmer’s Market is a lively series of “Shop and Learn” programs to be held each week at the St. Anthony Library. Topics range from composting and recycling to cookbook collecting and calligraphy. And VFM addresses the requirement to encourage active involvement by offering opportunities for residents to get information about voter registration or absentee voting.
The Village Farmer’s Market offers a unique shopping and learning experience for a
unique public that heretofore has shared a geographic region without a viable
community experience. Wendy’s hope is that folks from all of these municipalities,
school districts, cable and library systems, cultures, histories and neighborhoods will congregate and connect at the VFM. And that’s just what will happen. So, which came first, the market or the community?
Annona Gourmet owner and Windom Park resident Jean Rarick is a visible and vital member of the VFM Board. She’s made her welcoming shop a locus for the VFM initiative and the point of access where Wendy Huebner stops frequently to connect, pick up mail and capture energy for the next venture.
Two years ago, while pondering a career change from the international business world of fine paper, she was laid off. Having traveled extensively with her previously job, she had seen the concept in other countries and states and, knowing there was nothing like it in Minnesota, decided to open Annona Gourmet
Annona Gourmet fills the gap and the community benefits by Jean’s commitment to stay
in Northeast where she has lived for the past 25 years and where she has had family in
the area since the late 1800’s.
Annona offers an amazing array of gourmet treats – a rich assortment of vinegars that
Jean rotates on a regular basis, extra virgin olive oils from around the world, and a mix of locally produced products. Shoppers will find such local products as honey, jams, salsas and snacks plus a variety of art, pottery, jewelry and crafts created by local artists and crafters. Shoppers will also find a warm welcome, great music on the stereo or Jean’s favorite KFAI on the air.
Annona Gourmet offers taste tests – in the shop any time and at the VFM. For a great
profile of Jean and an engaging introduction to the “gastronomic experiences” of
Annona, check The Heavy Table, a Twin Cities-based magazine “passionately telling
the stories of food and drink – from roots to table – in the Upper Midwest” It’s not hard to figure how Jean got invited to that table.
Giving back to the community is a mantra for optometrist Todd Hanson, OD. owner of the St. Anthony Eye Clinic since 1995. Serving on the board for The Village Farmer’s Market is but one of the many examples too numerous to name.
Since 2005 he has been an active Kiwaniian, serving two terms as President the St. Anthony Kiwanis Club. The St. Anthony Lions Club presented Todd with the Helen Keller Sight Award for his leadership with efforts to restore and preserve sight. In 2003 the St. Anthony Chamber of Commerce awarded the St. Anthony Eye Clinic its Business of the Year Award. Also active in internal city projects Todd served over eight years on the St. Anthony planning Commission.
Todd’s interest in the Village Farmer’s Market was sparked when Wendy Huebner
attended a SAV merchants meeting to encourage volunteers to work on the Farmer’s
Market. As an independent business owner Todd was motivated by his longstanding
commitment to keep the Village busy and to provide more services to the people of the
For 12 years Todd, his wife Heidi and son Matthew, now six, lived in SAV and attended
Faith Church where Todd served on the Finance Committee. Though the family has
moved to Lino Lakes Todd continues his long term involvement and service to the
people of St. Anthony Village and the surrounding community.