(But the Farmer’s Market doesn’t always mean spring!)
I heard today was the first day of our Dane County Farmers’ Market here in Madison – said to be the largest in the United States. At around 7am I opened my laptop to make sure I heard correctly and this article popped up.
I could hear the 40mph wind howling outside and what sounded like icy rain drops horizontally smashing into the windows. Flipping my laptop shut with a groan, I seriously contemplated crawling back into bed. But I thought if these hearty farmers can brave opening day, I surely can walk three lousy blocks to Capitol Square and make a quick round.
So I grabbed our farmers’ market tote, threw on a winter coat that last week we’d put away for the season in the spare room closet (oops), and headed out. Should’ve worn gloves.
As expected, the stands were a little sparse, but the mood was jovial and defiant of Mother Nature’s wintery curveball. Everyone I made eye contact with seemed to be transmitting the same message – “why do we live here?”
Early spring isn’t as bountiful as later in the season, but it’s a great time to score some root vegetables, eggs, and Wisconsin cheeeeeeese! Oh, and bakeries – I don’t know how these at some point qualified to be in the farmer’s market, but I’m not complaining.
The route is also home to some passionate folks – collecting signatures for a referendum, giving free exercise classes, or saving the world. Democracy at its best. Today was no exception. Around the first corner I came upon a couple of shivering college students handing out flyers about their crowd funding project – Project Home by Re-Volv – to bring solar power to lower income families. They are 75% to their goal – check it out!
Next up was a stalwart trio from a local rowing club looking for new recruits. They hadn’t gotten any takers yet, but their banner had blown away four times by 8:30. I took a quick picture, shivered thinking about icy Lake Mendota, and moved on.
The best thing this time of year is the sweet (metaphorically and literally) “wintered spinach.” If you don’t know what it is, you should really “learn more.” It’s meant to be eaten like potato chips. So good!
Before heading home, I warmed up with a cup of coffee at Colectivo – an innovative Milwaukee roaster that conveniently opened an outpost right on the farmer’s market route. Today’s feature was Gaia – a blend roasted from women-led farms around the world. A perfect remedy for my icy hands and face!
In the end, my finds were pretty typical for early April: potatoes, an onion, winter spinach, a couple blueberry cornbread muffins, and some Brun-uusto style Scandinavian cheese. Looking forward to (hopefully) warmer Saturdays ahead!
If you want to read about the Dane County Farmer’s Market at its seasonal peak, here’s a post from guest blogger and friend-of-founder, Caroline.