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Janesville Farmers Market begins 2013 season Saturday

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Frank Schultz
May 2, 2013

— More farmers, more vegetables, more crafts, more entertainment and more community connections.

If all goes well, that's what's in store for the Janesville Farmers Market this season.

"There's a lot going on. It's a very exciting time to be in the local-food movement," said Stephanie Aegerter, who is entering her second year as market manager.

The first market of the season opens at 8 a.m. Saturday in downtown Janesville.

Aegerter said she has been working to respond to a survey of market patrons who said they wanted more farms, more prepared foods, "and just more, more, more, so we are actively seeking more, especially in the food department."

For the most part, the market's regular vendors will be back. New vendors include Raleigh's Hillside Farm from the Brodhead area and Lu Austin Preserves of Elkhorn.

About 40 vendors are already signed up for the season. That's a good number for this time of year, Aegerter said. A total of 72 vendors participated last year, but that includes those who came only a few times.

The first market of the season will not, of course, include the cornucopia of vegetable wonders normally available by summer, but Aegerter said farmers are getting better at controlling growing seasons with hoop houses, row covers and heated greenhouses.

"I'm not going to promise what vegetables are going to be there, but I know there will be some things available, along with greenhouse-grown flowers, hanging baskets, herb plants and plants to start out your garden," she said.

Aegerter suggests patrons check out the crafts and flower baskets for their Mother's Day shopping.

The market is also a social event, so the lack of tomatoes can be made up with the fun of renewing old acquaintances.

Also on tap this year:

Entertainment: Anyone with a family-friendly act is invited to perform for tips.

Aegerter said she's still looking for an entertainment sponsor to encourage local musicians and make sure they can earn decent paychecks.

SNAP: Those who benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for the needy can swipe their Electronic Benefits Transfer/Quest cards in exchange for tokens, which they can use to buy food at the market.

Aegerter plans on advertising to encourage more SNAP participants.

"I think it would bring a lot more people to the market and a lot more healthy food into the hands of people who need it," she said.

ECHO: The market also is working with the local charity and food pantry, which gives clients coupons for use at the market, but that doesn't start until June. The Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin received an anonymous $3,000 donation for the program, contingent in raising the same amount, so donations are needed.

The Rock County Historical Society: It will promote its new exhibit, "Breadbasket: Seed to Spoon."

Sponsors: Expect to see businesses and organizations mentioned in the market's promotional materials and organizations with information booths.

"We're really trying make the market more sustainable," Aegerter said.

In exchange for sponsorships, Aegerter will make presentations at company wellness programs. Both Janesville hospitals are sponsors this year, as is Kutter Harley-Davidson.

St. Mary's Janesville Hospital will be back with promotions, like last year's handouts of herb plants, vegetable peelers and soup samples, Aegerter said. A county wellness program also is partnering with the market.

"We're really representing the community, and this is Janesville's farmers market. It's a benefit to the community, and these different businesses and nonprofits and individuals who are working with us, they all have an important part to play in Janesville's market," she said.

Aegerter, whose day job is at the Basics Co-operative in Janesville, said next Tuesday—the date of the store's monthly Super Tuesday promotion—will be an opportunity for patrons to contribute to the market. Customers will be asked if they want to donate $1 when they check out.

FARMERS MARKET SEASON GETTING STARTED

Farmers markets in the area include:

-- Rock County Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays from May 19 through Oct. 27, at 5013 W. Highway 11, Janesville. Call 608-314-6721.

-- Janesville Farmers Market, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays from May 4 through Oct. 26, at the 100 block of Main Street, downtown Janesville. Visit janesvillefarmersmarket.com.

-- Beloit Farmers Market, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays in June through October, at the 300 block of State Street and 400 block of East Grand Avenue, downtown Beloit.

-- Evansville Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays from May 4 through Oct. 26, on Church Street adjacent to Creekside Place, 102 Maple St., Evansville. Visit evansvillefarmersmarket.com.

-- Milton Farmers and Art Market, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays from May 19 through Oct. 20, at 819 E. High St., Milton.

-- Walworth County Farmers Market, 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays from June 15 through Oct. 19, at Elkhorn Town Square, highways 67 and 11, downtown Elkhorn.

-- Whitewater Farmers Market, 8 a.m. until sold out on Saturdays now through Nov. 2, at the Winchester True Value parking lot, 1415 W. Main St., Whitewater.

-- Delavan Fresh Market, 3 to 7 p.m. Thursdays from June through October, at Tower Park off Walworth Avenue, Delavan.

-- East Troy Farmers Market, 3 to 7 p.m. Fridays from May 24 through Oct. 4, at Wild Flour Bakery & Café, W2463 County ES, East Troy. Visit easttroywi.org.

-- Lake Geneva Farmers Market, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays from May 9 through Oct. 10, at Horticultural Hall, 330 Broad St., Lake Geneva. Call 262-248-4382.



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