In 1985-86, former Minnesota Governor Elmer Anderson, the Rum River Citizen's League, and the City of Princeton sponsored community meetings to improve the economic concerns of Main Street. As a result of those meetings, the Princeton Farmers Market was originally conceptualized to be a downtown community market that encouraged local economic activity. A consortium of local specialty crop farmers was organized by the Minnesota Food Association Chapter and the market began the summer of 1987.
Initial farms included the Melon Patch, Clasen Acres, Promise Land Organics, Foltz Orchard and Nursery, Pelucidor Farm, Polly's Pickins, and J.Q. Fruit Farm and Orchard. Initially, the market was located at Princeton's Riverside Park. In 1987, Princeton Farmers Market began its mission to help area farmers sell their products directly to consumers with the goal of expanding local food production, improving the variety, freshness, taste, safety, and nutritional value of produce available to consumers, and to strengthen the local economy.
As it grew with more farms, the Princeton market moved to its present location, the Princeton Mall parking lot. In 2006, the organization started the Zimmerman Farmers' Market. The consortium of farms eventually incorporated in 2009 as the Princeton-Zimmerman Farmers Market Association—a non-profit farmer association with markets in Princeton and Zimmerman. Currently, the association averages up to twenty member farms.
Today, PZFMA represents an ideal seldom seen in practice—100% Local and 100% Farmer Run. The markets feature only local products sold directly by the producer. All vendors and their produce sold at market must originate from within 45 miles of the Greater Princeton-Zimmerman community. This is stipulated in the organization's bylaws and enforced by an elected board of farmer-directors. Despite these restrictions, the variety found at PZFMA markets is stunning. It consists of: a wide variety of vegetables including rare Asian and European varieties, meats including beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and duck, fresh fruits including apples, blueberries, currants, raspberries, and strawberries, various syrups, baked goods, and canned goods, milk-based and plant-based soaps and lotions, apiary products, and annual and perennial plants. Just as it was conceptualized in the mid-1980s, PZMFA showcases the agricultural diversity of the Princeton-Zimmerman area and continues to be an example of the rural American entrepreneurial spirit, bringing added vibrancy to our Main Streets.