Locally Grown

There is something special about shopping at a farmers market.

When you choose to purchase an item, you are doing much more than simply crossing an item off your grocery list. You are supporting a local farmer, artist, or maker. Someone whose passion for their craft goes far beyond a sale on the sidewalk. Essentially, local farmers markets are a place to create relationships between the maker and the consumer.

“I think people choose to shop at farmers markets because they want to connect to their food and their farmers.” says Jackie Boutan of Jake’s Kettle Corn, a vendor at several markets in the area. Likewise, from a vendor’s perspective, she says, “selling at farmers markets gives me an opportunity to develop a more personal relationship with my regular customers.” Boutan often meets people on a weekly basis and is able to cultivate a relationship that goes beyond simply an exchange of goods. The sale becomes personal and heartfelt when you are able to purchase from someone with which you have built rapport. With each purchase, you are making an investment in the small businesses in front of you.

For many vendors, selling goods is just one of the results of a greater mission. It’s about taking something they love and sharing it with the community. They have passion for the ingredients, the process, and the final product of their labor. When a patron stops short in awe of a craftsman’s work, when the customer insists on buying tomatoes from a particular booth, or when that familiar face stops every week to grab a coffee and biscotti, the vendor feels a deep sense of satisfaction and pride. Moments like these remind them that the fruits of their labor have not only been seen, but greatly appreciated.

Farmers markets give vendors an opportunity to not only sell their products, but also to inform their customers. Whether it be about the process of creation, the importance of clean ingredients, or the dedication that drives their business, the final sale is rarely the whole story. For Levi and Emily Powers of Alden Hills Organic Farms, their primary passion is providing the most nutritious and highest quality food to the community.
“For us, organic sets a standard that keeps that passion foremost. Not only does it guide our practices, but it guarantees a standard of quality for our customers,” says Levi Powers.
Indeed, consumers are finding themselves increasingly aware of the ingredients in their daily products. People are searching for hormone and chemical free products from socially responsible businesses, from their eggs in the morning, to the chicken they eat for dinner, and the soap they use to bathe their children. The methods and business practices are almost as important as the final product. Shopping at a market provides personal interactions with your food that simply aren’t possible at big box stores. The Powers family, like many other farmers and artisans, are able to share their passion first hand thanks to face to face encounters. Thus, they are able to teach others about the significance of their products and methods.

Markets are great for socializing and cultivating relationships with farmers, equally important though, is how impactful they are to the local economy. Ron Henningfield, of Hill Valley Dairy, emphasizes this point: “When you buy our products, it supports our family business and a small family dairy farm in East Troy.” Purchases made at a farmers market are dollars going directly into the hands of our neighbors, and thus will be turned right back into our local economy.

Buying directly from a farmer, artist, or maker is about building relationships and supporting a community member’s passion. It’s about making socially responsible purchases and knowing the ingredients in your products. It’s about keeping the local economy strong. Who knew simply shopping for groceries could carry such a significant meaning?

Northwind Perennial Farm Farmers Market
7047 Hospital Road Burlington, WI 53105
Sunday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
June – September
Burlington Farmers Market
Wehmhoff Square, Burlington, WI 53105
Thursday, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
May – October

Delavan Fresh Market
Tower Park, Walworth Avenue Delavan, WI 53115
Thursday, 3 p.m.- 7 p.m.
June – October

East Troy Farmers Market
East Troy Village Square Park, 2881 Main St.
Friday, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
May – October

Elkhorn Farmers Market
Courthouse Square, Wisconsin Street, Elkhorn, WI 53121
Saturday, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
June – October

Fontana Farmers Market
Porter Street Plaza
Saturday, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
June – September
Horticultural Hall
Lake Geneva, WI 53147
Thursday, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
May – October

Whitewater Farmers Market
Winchester True Value, parking lot, 1415 West Main Street, Whitewater, WI 53190
Saturday, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
April – November

Boxed & Burlap Farmers Market
2935 WI-67, Delavan, WI 53115
Friday, 8a.m. – 2 p.m.
June – September


By: Kinsey Quernemoen
Photography by: Matt Haas

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