It is hard to believe that less than a month ago the vendors at the Dane County Farmers’ Market were selling produce on Capitol Square. It may feel like our Madison treasure has come to an end, but it hasn’t. The farmers’ market isn’t seasonal; vendors are currently selling Saturday mornings at Monona Terrace and will be until right before the holidays. They will then move to the Madison Senior Center from January to April. Unfortunately, the indoor markets do not see the same volume as the Saturday summer market, even though vendors are working just as hard during the winter months as the summer months.
Although the farmers’ market is a crucial hub for local farmers and products, DCFM does face its share of challenges, many of which revolve around the need to educate consumers on the products that are available for sale. DCFM Market Manager Bill Luping said, “We have plenty of people on the Capitol Square on Saturday visiting the market. Now we need to educate many more of them to the advantages of adopting the DCFM as their source for locally produced food. As a producer-only market, the person who sells it is the one who raised or produced it. All of our members reside in Wisconsin. Our strict inspection protocol ensures that what you’re buying is produced by the one who sells it.”
The continuation of support for the market is equivalent to supporting our community in many ways. First, we are supporting our vendors. They work hard to make local items available to us, especially given the complexity of becoming and maintaining a membership. It entails much more than setting up a tent Saturday mornings and collecting money. For instance, the first step is being put on a (minimum) five-year waiting list. This amount of patience alone indicates that vendors work hard not only to produce the goods but also to sell them throughout summer, winter and fall.
Buying from a local business contributes to our community. A press release from the County Executive website talked about the importance of buying local products from local businesses. Citing the economic benefits of buying local, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi stated, “Every $73 out of $100 spent at a locally owned business stays in our community vs. $43 from a similar purchase at another business and it helps create and retain jobs in our community.”
In addition to shopping at the DCFM, Madison has other excellent resources to educate ourselves on where to shop. Dane Buy Local is a group that promotes supporting local businesses and community collaboration. They have almost 800 members and they are the largest buy local initiative group in the United States on a city/county wide scale. This year they are spearheading a “Shift Your Shopping” campaign that encourages Madisonians to buy from local independent businesses. In addition to sponsoring the event, a number of local businesses are handing out door prizes to further encourage city-wide participation.
Encouraging individuals to buy local products is high priority. Black Friday is a perfect example of big box stores getting a huge amount of business, while local stores struggle. Although it is a challenge to only purchase local products from local businesses, there is a way to reach an appropriate balance. If we can take the time this year to consider the DCFM and ma and pa store for holiday shopping, we can find a great gift for a loved one and help our community.
Mackenzie Krumme ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in international studies and intending to major in journalism.