As we near the end of the season for the famed Dane County Saturday farmer’s market on the square in downtown Madison, a smaller Sunday market, also on the square, is finishing up for the 2015 season as well. The new Sunday market, which started at the end of September 2015, was the inspiration of Cora Higgenbotham, a retired lawyer and family member of the original owners of Stella’s Bakery. The bakery has been selling great bakery items, including a popular and addictive spicy cheese bread, for many years. The bread is also sold at Willy Street Co-op and other specialty retail markets around Madison.
Higgenbotham has already started plans for the 2016 season, and possibly a winter market. Although, Higgenbotham has registered the trademark for Sunday’s market, named The Madison Farmer’s Market, a website has not yet been created. The Sunday market will probably be a relief for some regular Saturday market-goers who can’t find convenient parking, or have a difficult time navigating the Saturday crowds. Fifty percent of the vendors at the Sunday market also sell at the Saturday market, but new vendors have started selling as well. These vendors can start selling sooner, instead of waiting for an opening in Saturday’s market.
The more farmer’s markets the merrier. Studies have shown that eating fruit and vegetables from the market is healthier than buying produce that has traveled for miles to be in a supermarket. It makes sense. Most produce sold at the market is harvested right before the market opens, thereby guaranteeing freshness and a higher nutritional value. Although some may complain they’re more expensive, products sold at the market last longer than mass-produced products and will not spoil as quickly, and so can reduce weekly food cost.
Madison College’s Gourmet Dining Program and its students also make use of farm fresh products. For example, the delicacy of the morel mushroom cannot be missed. It has one of the shortest growing seasons, but luckily because of farmer’s markets they’re picked early and can be purchased the same morning and on your plate by lunch.
In addition, shopping at farmer’s markets keeps our dollars in the local economy, enriching our own community. The market also creates a space for neighbors, friends, and family to not only meet and enjoy the flavors of the market, but to catch up with each other in our busy lives.