The Dane County Farmers’ Market announced it will hold an outdoor season this year, starting April 10. 

The DCFM has approximately 275 vendors who sells vegetables, flowers, meats, cheeses and specialty products with over 150 customers attending every Saturday, according to Destination Madison.

According to DCFM assistant manager Jill Carlson Groendyk, the pandemic changed the markets’ operations drastically. 

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“Our operations got completely turned on its head. Everyone grieved the loss of the traditional farmers’ market experience downtown. We have members who have been vending with us for four decades,” Groendyk said. “Every Saturday in summer they were on the square and to not have that space was sad.”

The DCFM uses WhatsGood, a third-party sales platform for farmers and farmers’ markets. They will start their season in the Alliant Energy Center where customers can pre-order products using the WhatsGood app and can then come pick up their order on Wednesdays. 

According to the DCFM website, the market also participates in FoodShare, Wisconsin’s version of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the federal program formerly known as food stamps.

Customers eligible for SNAP can buy bakery goods, fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy products, edible plant seedlings, pickles, jams and more. SNAP cannot be used to buy any non-food items.

Groendyk said DCFM is permitted as an essential food access point by Madison and Dane County, and though it is still reviewing DCFM’s operational plan, she is confident DCFM will be able to operate this summer. 

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According to the DCFM website, there will be two markets held each week. One on Wednesday, where patrons can only pick-up with the WhatsGood app, and a more traditional farmers’ market on Saturday. 

The main adjustments to this summers’ markets will be online ordering and additional safety measures, Groendyk said.

According to the DCFM website, market vendors have only one rule — all products must be Wisconsin-grown.

Local bee keeper and nearly 40-year vendor at the farmers’ market Mary Celley said business undeniably changed due to COVID-19.

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“I did not see a lot of my regulars, a lot of people don’t want to navigate WhatsGood. I’m just hoping people return to the square, which I think they will,” Celley said. “At least when people came, they were there to shop and not just look.”

According to Groendyk, the DCFM operated its entire outdoor season last year at the Alliant Energy Center, they will start their spring season here as well.

They still have not been permitted to return to the Capitol Square this summer, though according to their website they are confident they will be able to at some point this season. 

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Celley said she is hopeful things will look more familiar this season. 

“Just like everybody else, I’ve had to reinvent the wheel and adapt and change,” Celley said. “I think people are anxious, but I see it going back to the way it used to be.”

More information about the Dane County Farmers’ Market and its safety guidelines can be found on the market’s website.