Tis the season for Farmer’s Markets to open and local CSA’s to ramp up—selling loads of bright, locally produced fruits and vegetables. Give a boost to your family’s intake of healthy produce this summer by buying locally and loading up their plates with nutrients.

These local sources of healthy produce also provide very real connections to the community and the people whose livelihood is nurturing the food that goes on your table. Let’s take a look at some of the great options for local produce in Central Wisconsin.

Stevens Point Farmer’s Market

Located in the Mathias Mitchell Public Square, this is the longest running farmer’s market in the state of Wisconsin—up and running since the area was donated to the town in 1847. Selling everything from fresh eggs to berries to perennials, the Stevens Point Farmer’s Market is busiest on Saturdays. For best selection, shop from 8 AM to noon, as things do sell out by mid-afternoon at times.

Oshkosh, Sparta, and Monroe Farmer’s Markets

Farmer’s Markets are established in most towns and cities and are a great way to experience our neighboring towns.

  • The Oshkosh Farmer’s Market has been a Reader’s Choice Award Winner for Best of Winnebago County and ranked one of the 101 Best Farmer’s Markets in America. Going almost year-round, this market also has live music and other attractions. Open Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings.
  • The Sparta Farmer’s Market provides all the fresh produce you’d expect as well as homemade jams, soap, and maple syrup, plus kids’ activities and more. Open Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings.
  • The Monroe Farmer’s Market is much like a festival/craft fair/farmer’s market where you can find a little of everything (including masterfully made grilled cheese). Open Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings.

 

CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture)

When you purchase through a CSA, you are buying a “share” of a local farmer’s goods, on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for that growing season. That farmer has a certain number of shares to offer and splits and then distributes his/her wares week by week. Some weeks, you may get asparagus and sweet peas, while later in the season you might get sweet corn and fall raspberries. The items and quantity are usually determined by the farmer, but you know the food is amazingly fresh. If you’re worried about getting too much each week, many people split their share with friends. Plus, you will surely get a chance to try things you would never have picked up on your own! Check out these ten CSA’s in our area.

When compared to grocery store shopping, getting your produce from CSA’s or Farmer’s Markets can have its pros and cons. Obviously, grocery store produce is convenient while you’re out grabbing cereal and cold cuts, your selection is the same every week, and many times grocers will source locally whenever possible. The benefits to shopping Farmer’s Markets and using CSA’s is that you’re supporting local farmers, you can speak with them and ask questions about pesticides or growing conditions, and you know that the fresh produce you’re looking at hasn’t been transported for very long or very far. Keep in mind that prices may be better in either scenario, and just because it’s found at a farmer’s market, doesn’t mean it is organic.

So grab those canvas bags and walking shoes, and sniff out some of the colorful, flavorful favorites grown right here in Wisconsin.