AMONG THE VENDORS selling lettuce and rhubarb, onions and the season’s first strawberries and cherry tomatoes, between those marketing jars of salsa, hunks of cheese, pickled asparagus and root beer jelly, mixed with others showcasing embroidered dish towels and bird feeders and fleece blankets and so much more, there are those who offer something just a tad bit different at the Owatonna Farmer’s Market.
They are folks like Gene Mosher, who calls himself an inventor. On this Saturday morning, this Owatonna resident has set up a small table to peddle his product, the jar cover opener. Most shoppers simply pass him by.
But I stop to investigate the V-shaped metal tool which Gene claims will open those hard to open jars. He places a jar inside the saw-toothed grip and, with ease, unscrews the lid. I try. Success.
It’s late morning and Gene’s slashed the price from $15 to $10. This is his first time at the market. He has yet to sell a single opener; he’s always given them away. And he insists I take one, too.
I suggest he market his invention at the local senior center, taking the product to those most likely to purchase it. But Gene doesn’t seem too concerned. Pressed a bit, this long ago printer and then machining model maker will tell you about the mud covers he developed for race cars and the piston ring gapping machine which is now sold all over the world. He’s an inventor and tells me I’ve just made his day by stopping to check out the jar cover opener.
Just like Gene, gardeners Luther Hanson and Mark Gengler saw a need—for a better tomato cage—and created the EZ Tomato Cage. This 59-inch tall structure made of galvanized steel and aluminum parts appears about as strong as any tomato plant holder-upper I’ve ever seen.
Not that I have a need for this $20 per unit made in America product since I grow only two tomato plants in pots. But I think immediately of my middle brother and his wife who plant dozens of tomatoes and likely would appreciate such sturdy, and collapsible for storage, construction.
Nearby, I am impressed by Rose Gehrke, a 15-year-old entrepreneur from Waterville who some day hopes to open a cupcake shop. On this morning, she is at the market with her dad and the 96 cupcakes she baked the day prior. Some 10 hours in the kitchen. Four homemade varieties including the absolutely delectable vanilla with raspberry filling topped by cream cheese frosting and the equally delicious chocolate with a cookie dough filling and cookie dough frosting.
Inspired by the television show, Cake Boss, and kids’ birthday party cupcakes, Rose learned to bake from her mom. Now she’s got her own business, Rosie Cakes, the start-up for her dream of one day owning a cupcake shop.
And because I believe in dreams and the young people who dream them, I purchase two $2 cupcakes from Rose of Rosie Cakes.
BONUS FARMER’S MARKET PHOTOS:
FYI: The Owatonna Farmer’s Market is open from 7 a.m. – noon, May – October, at Central Park in the city’s downtown. It’s an impressive market.