History of Minnesota Food Association

The Minnesota Food Association (MFA) was established in 1983 as a grassroots organization, emerging out of the successful preservation of the St. Paul Farmer’s Market by a group of concerned citizens in 1981. Founder Ken Taylor was a strong activist in the areas of food and farming, and the organization was an early leader in the food advocacy movement in Minnesota. After Taylor’s death in 1995, MFA focused on specific projects to build the local food infrastructure, with the creation of its keystone immigrant farmer training program in 1998.

After working for years providing training and technical assistance to immigrant farmers, MFA identified the need for a land-based component to their program that would provide the hands-on experience and safe start-up environment new farmers needed. In 2005 the current farm was leased from the Wilder Foundation, located within the Twin Cities Metro area to remain close to immigrant populations and markets for local produce. In 2007 MFA began distributing produce under the name Big River Farms, opening up markets for the small-scale farmers in the training program. Organic certification was obtained in 2008, and the program continued to grow, launching numerous independent farm businesses in the ensuing years.
In 2012, MFA was chosen by Philanthropedia (a division of GuideStar USA) as one of “15 outstanding nonprofits working on local access to healthy food” in Minnesota. We have also been nationally identified as a food hub by Wallace Center’s National Good Food Network, and profiled in a national study on food hubs conducted by the USDA, entitled “The Role of Food Hubs in Local Food Marketing.” We are committed to utilizing our strong reputation as a pioneer in the field to lead our community into the next phase of building a strong and equitable local food system. 


Over the years he led the Minnesota Food Association, founder Ken Taylor wrote many forward-thinking articles. In 2006, Beth Waterhouse took time to review the archives of his writing and pulled out some of the best.  We are making some of those articles available here.  Please credit Ken Taylor and Minnesota Food Association if you use any of this information.

A Bit of St. Paul History
Central Asia's Aral Sea
Citizen or Consumer
Eating Is An Agricultural Act
Food as a Measure of Our Values
Food Safety
Rural Enterprise
The Agricultural and Medical Priesthood
We Know What We Are Doing