Five (+) Reasons to Support Farmers Markets

Dane County Farmers Market overlooking Lake Mendota, Madison, WI

Last week, Aug. 7-13, communities across the country celebrated National Farmers Market Week. I joined in by heading to my favorite Dane County Farmers Market. As the largest producer-only market in the country, it surrounds Madison’s Capitol Square with a cornucopia of fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, cheese, baked goods, flowers and more. It’s a beloved Saturday tradition and a definite must-do destination.

What’s the big deal about farmers markets and why is it so important to support them?

The most obvious reasons are the opportunity to taste food at its best and to meet the farmers who produce it. But here are five equally important reasons.

1. Seasonal Flavor

Long before the days of picking produce in an unripened state, stockpiling it in warehouses and then trucking it cross-country, people ate differently. They ate seasonally. That is to say they harvested food grown in their own good earth at the time it was peak in ripeness, and they then either ate it or home-preserved it while it was still fresh. If they were Midwesterners, they ate asparagus in spring, tomatoes in summer, and apples in autumn. Because withstanding the rigors of transportation was not an issue, these now-heritage varietals were grown with an emphasis on flavor. They were nutritious and, oh, so full of natural tastiness.

Farmers markets allow us to go back to those times. They enable us to celebrate the God-given rhythm of growing seasons and purchase foods at their highest quality. On top of that, farmers markets offer a wonderful diversity, with many varietals we’ll never find in commercial groceries.

A great book on the benefits of eating seasonally is Animal, Vegetable, Miracleby Barbara Kingsolver.

2. Environmentally Friendly

Scientific American coined the term “5,000-mile salad” in reference to the global distance an increasing number of our store-bought fruits and vegetables travel. Conversely, many farmers markets require vendors to sell food produced within a specified distance, some as low as 50–100 miles. Buying from the farmers market means you’re spending your dollars on food, not fossil fuels.

Americans have developed an insatiable appetite for healthy food and farmers markets are rising to meet the demand. Saturday, as I moved in a shoulder-to-shoulder flow of people, I noticed a majority of venders advertising themselves as using organic and GMO-free practices.

Market vendors love to discuss farming with their customers. They share a contagious energy for growing good food and protecting the soil in which its grown.

fresh produce from Wisconsin farmers markets

3. Affordability

I went to Saturday’s market to supplement my own garden with poblano peppers for Marisa McClellan’s corn salsa recipe. I happily came away with a few extra items, all for less than $20.

  • 2 bags squeaky fresh cheese curds: $5 each
  • 1 lb. crowns-only broccoli: $1
  • 2 lb. carrots: $2
  • 4 poblano and red peppers: $2.75

Shopping seasonally and locally enables us to buy better quality for less money. Take this $1 broccoli, for example. Apparently my area is having a bountiful year for cruciferous vegetables and they’re priced exceptionally low. Next week, after I’ve finished canning corn, I’ll be back for more broccoli to put up for winter. Fresh, local, inexpensive—how can I go wrong?

Healthy, organic food has a reputation of being too costly but farmers markets debunk such nonsense. Farmers markets offer us a way to eat  healthy and economically all year long.

4. Social

The farmers market is just plain fun. It’s a bringing together of humanity to celebrate one of our most basic joys and needs—food. Good food! At the Dane County Farmers Market, families gather for picnics on the Capitol lawn. Street musicians bring festivity to the air. Dancers entertain us. At my small, hometown Tuesday market, friends and neighbors greet one another by name. The honey vendor offers me, a newbie beekeeper, helpful advice and happily takes my empty jars for recycling.

5. Support for the Local, Sustainable Farmer

I have a soft spot for the self-employed. I revere those with the moxie to separate themselves from corporate America, those with a drive for something more than money—in this case, food that won’t poison us or the earth. For these entrepreneuring hearts, a farmers market is the land of opportunity.

A farmers market is where the handcrafted soapmaker supplements the family’s income so he or she can stay home with the kids. Where immigrants can make a living and connect with the community. Where whole families can work together and kids gain the confidence that comes with business and social skills. Where the high school musician can earn money for college. Where farmers can continue in small, organic practices because there are customers who share their passion for quality food.

Supporting your local farmers market affords these opportunities to continue. If local farmers succeed, they will continue providing us with quality food and they will invest their earnings back into our community. Their success is our success.

Another great book is Gaining Groundby Forrest Pritchard. It’s the hard-work-and-economics story of establishing his grass-finished beef in the Washington D.C. farmers markets.

A Farmers Market Near You

Looking for market locations and schedules? Here is a national directory. Also, here is a south-central Wisconsin directory (it’s a social media post I did for Forward Mutual—I can write for your organization too, by the way:-).

Wednesday Webs: Things Keeping My Interest This Summer

Bees on their brood frame in Wisconsin

So this has been my summer of beekeeping. Since I know absolutely nada of these honeys, I’m learning things as I go. For example, I now know the cone shape in the center above is a queen cell and since I already have one queen, another could be problematic. I should get rid of this cell. Or not. The challenging aspect of Beekeeping 101 is that the old salts are notorious for their variety of preferential practices (kind of like our world of marketing, yes?). In any event, so far I’ve managed to not kill my bees, nor have they left me for a better keeper.

Besides beekeeping (and my usual gardening and raising baby chicks), here are other agricultural interests that have me humming this summer:

  • Speaking of bees, here’s an interview on what we can do to improve their future, by an unconventional Madison entrepreneur
  • Similarly, the Chicago Honey Co-op works to produce honey and promote the good work of bees
  • You’ve heard of CSAs. How about CSFs, (as in Alaskan fish)? Grassroots, out-of-the-box entrepreneurism at its best!
  • We Live On the Internet. We Die Alone. Are we living our lives online instead of living it for real? This isn’t a farming story, but its poignant intensity shows a season of life that applies to us all. This summer spend time digging in the dirt. Grow food and share it with people. Spend real time with real people!

Soil Sisters ad by Adunate Word & Design

  • I’m once again proud to be working with Soil Sisters, a fun-filled, culinary and ag event. Here’s the ad Adunate did for them, which appeared in the summer issue of Edible Madison magazine. Going to be in Wisconsin this summer? Come to Soil Sisters, Aug. 5-7.

Sponsor Sampler, by Adunate Word & Design

  • Later, in fall, Fermentation Fest will once again host its convergence of food, agriculture and art. Here’s a piece Adunate did as a sponsor sampler. Interested in sponsoring Fermentation Fest? Contact the Fermentation Fest team right away because they’re putting things together as we speak!

That’s all for now, folks. Hope you’re having a blessed summer!

 

Supper Club Book Features Close to Home

WIsconsin Supper Clubs, Another Round, by Ron Faiola

One of the greatest joys of being in business is watching my clients succeed. So when Jaci, of Donny’s Girl Supper Club, told me her restaurant was being featured in ‘Wisconsin Supper Clubs, Another Round,’ I couldn’t have been more excited.

Donny's Girl Supper Club featured in Wisconsin Supper Clubs book

Wisconsin Supper Clubs, Another Round,’ by Ron Faioli, celebrates the distinctly Wisconsin culture of supper club restaurants. It’s a sequel to Faioli’s hugely popular ‘Wisconsin Supper Clubs, An Old Fashioned Experience‘ and similarly, it highlights a delightful mix of 50 supper clubs throughout the state.

Maybe you’re wondering what constitutes a supper club? Think family-owned, supper only, hearty fare made from scratch, and a welcoming patron mix of friends and newcomers. Oh, and don’t forget the Brandy Old-Fashioned cocktail and Friday fish fry! Donny’s Girl embraces these qualities deliciously.

Adunate is proud to serve as webmaster for Donny's Girl Supper Club, Watertown, WI

As Jaci’s web designer, I have the distinct honor of maintaining her site. Inevitably, when updating her menu, I find myself craving a tasty dinner and the warmth of the supper club community. Thankfully Donny’s Girl is just down the road!

Looking to get a hold of ‘Wisconsin Supper Clubs, Another Round?’ Jaci is selling them at Donny’s Girl Supper Club, located here. The books are also available online here.

Enjoy!

Magnificent Trees for Earth Day 2016

Old growth forest in Hartwick Pines, Grayling, MI

Last week while traveling in Michigan we spent an afternoon in Hartwick Pines State Park. When I was a kid my family spent a lot of time vacationing in nearby Grayling so this whole Au Sable River region holds special memories. It was great to be back (snow and all, ha!).

Chapel in the Pines, Hartwick Pines State Park, Grayling, MI

It’s also fitting because today is Earth Day and this year’s emphasis is Trees for the Earth. If you want to celebrate trees, Hartwick Pines is the place to go. It’s a 9,672-acre park that during the late 1800s was owned and logged by the Salling-Hanson Lumber Company. Thankfully in 1927, Karen Michelson Hartwick, a company heir, donated the land to the State of Michigan as a memorial to the logging industry. With that came 85 acres (now 49) of old growth, 350+ year old, red and white pines. Talk about glorious trees! There’s also a second growth forest that was planted in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp.

How blessed we are that people in the past cared enough to preserve trees for us today. Now we have an opportunity to pay it forward. In recognition of its upcoming 50th anniversary, the Earth Day Network has set a goal of planting 7.8 billion trees by 2020 and they’re looking for us to help.

Reliance Peach bareroot trees

Here’s our contribution: Peach trees. They’re replacement for those we lost a few years ago to Wisconsin winters. Since peaches aren’t native to this area, their lifespan isn’t as long as it might be in a more southernly climate (oops, we’re not exactly following the article I wrote for Forward Mutual’s weekly news:-). Nonetheless, I’ve been missing the home-canned goodness they offer, so we’re happy to replace them as needed. Grow fast trees, grow fast!

Happy Earth Day everyone! Plant a tree and celebrate the good earth God has given us!


Nature, agriculture, food and history are some of my favorite topics. If you need copywriting for your organization, drop me a line!

Creative Thinking for The Blogging Bee

The Blogging Bee website, designed by Adunate.com

Last week Chris Kirsch and I were excited to kick off The Blogging Bee, a collaborative venture in teaching fiber-istas the fine art of blogging. Today I’m going to approach The Blogging Bee from an art director’s view. I want to share our creative thinking and explain just how it is campaigns such as ours come to be.

Our Challenge

One day months ago, Chris mentioned many of her fiber friends would love to blog but don’t know where to begin. Would I be interested in teaching them? I jumped at the idea. I regularly teach my clients to blog and they quickly learn it offers great benefits to their business.

And so, The Blogging Bee was born.

The Blogging Bee logo

Our Target Market

Quilters—all fiber artists, in fact—are as diverse as a patchwork quilt. Yet, according to a recent Quilting in America survey, the average “Dedicated Quilter” is female, about 64, well-educated (79% attended college), has a household income in excess of $100,000 and has been quilting an average of 20.3 years.

Quilters are becoming a tech savvy bunch. Five years ago when I introduced Chris to blogging, a concern was that many of her peers barely used email, let alone the internet. Today, she averages more than 1100 views a week on Chris Lynn Quilts. Quilters are looking to get cross-creative with their fiber art. They want to challenge the analytical side of their brain. Blogging is just the thing, especially when taught in a personalized, hands-on method—the very way they’ve been learning fiber techniques all these years.

The Blogging Bee website, designed by Adunate.com

Our Brand: A Romantic Contrast of Old and New

I have two antique sewing machines with drawers stuffed full of vintage gadgetries. Their emotional factor is priceless. They also create an interesting, if not paradoxical, brand. In addition to using them in our website imagery, I also started an Instagram photo series the week before our kickoff. I plan to continue this through April so be sure to check it out.

Here’s where the paradox happens: Even though our look is vintage, our design is trendy. And for very good reasons.

Our website uses a responsive framework, complete with scrolling navigation, full screen images and large text. Being mindful of our target market, we want to make our message easily readable on whatever device the viewer chooses.

We’re also trendy with color. Drumroll, please, for Pantone’s 2016 Colors of the Year: Rose Quartz and Serenity!

Pantone is the leading color authority and each year it introduces its attention-getting Color of the Year (this year it chose two). While Pantone is most associated with the printing industry, it inevitably sets the trend for interior design, fashion and…fiber arts. Naturally, this season’s fabrics will show lots of pink and blue, and with Dedicated Quilters spending an average of $3,296 annually on quilting-related purchases, you can bet they’ll notice this color trend.

Pantone poetically describes its 2016 colors as an “inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.” Our goal was to bring this intrigue to our brand. The Blogging Bee is a romantic contrast of old and new, from the glorious tradition of quilting to the exciting, new levels of online technology.


If you’re in southeastern Wisconsin and want to learn blogging, check out The Blogging Bee. If you’re a business and want this same creative attention for your marketing, check out Adunate!