Please read the message to our community dated Monday, July 6th, regarding the revoking of our permit for the Saturday Market on the Capitol Square for the 2020 season and our commitment to hosting pick ups and markets at Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center thru the end of our outdoor season on November 7, 2020.
What is the current status of the Dane County Farmers' Market?
- The Wisconsin Capitol Police has officially revoked our permit for our Saturday Market on the Capitol Square for the 2020 outdoor season.
- Still, the DCFM is open and continues to fulfill its core mission of connecting small Wisconsin farmers and food producers with patrons in the Greater-Madison area.
- DCFM staff continue to work full-time from home managing market operations and strategy. We continue to stay engaged with our local community partners in addition to our national farmers' market colleagues.
Is the Dane County Farmers' Market closed?
- Although we will be unable to host the Saturday Market on the Square this season, the Dane County Farmers' Market is not closed for the season. We continue to host Local Food Pick Ups where patrons can easily pre-order from many DCFM farmers and food producers within 1 transaction on our WhatsGood online store. Then patrons drive-thru our pick up and our farmers contactlessly place their pre-orders in their vehicles. It's a convenient and easy way to support our farmers and to get your hands on the freshest and best local produce and products from our region.
- We are also piloting a more traditional market at Willow Island on Saturdays starting August 1st. At this market, patrons will be able to still pre-order and drive-thru for contactless pick up during designated hours. Patrons will also be able to pick up pre-orders on foot and shop spontaeously during the walk-up hours.
Is there someone or some office that I can call to voice my complaints regarding the DCFM permit not being reinstated?
- We are deeply humbled by the outpouring of support we have received from customers regarding our Saturday Market on the Square throughout the past few months. Many deeply miss this thriving community gathering and marketplace.
- However, despite what we are missing, we honor and respect the Wisconsin Capitol Police's decision to revoke our permit for the 2020 season and ask that our customers do as well.
- DCFM Management and our member-run Board of Directors worked closely with stakeholders at the City, County, and State levels to fully explore a reopening of our Saturday Market both on the Capitol Square as well as elsewhere in the downtown area. Through this consultation with public health experts and our community partners, we came to understand that a reopening was not possible nor advisable.
- We understand that the DCFM, as a farmers' market, is an essential food access point. We also understand that other area farmers' markets are operating in their historic locations. The DCFM is unique in the scale and nature of its operations and reopening our Saturday Market safely during COVID was not possible. All businesses must make decisions informed by their unique situations.
- It is appropriate to grieve - as any loss (whether of a person, place, or experience) can be difficult. We hope that after our community has grieved that they will engage with us and our farmers. Our current market offerings have been a source of joy and connection for our staff, our farmers, and our patrons. Furthermore, we feel lucky to work in an industry that is so rooted in the nourishing of people and communities through fresh local food foods - something that has proven invaluable during this crisis.
How can I support local farmers at this time?
- The best way to support our farmers is to continue to purchase their delicious local foods from them at our Wednesday Local Food Pick Ups, at our Saturday Market at Willow Island, and directly via our Buy Direct listings.
- In partnership with the FairShare CSA Coalition, we have established an Emergency Farmer Fund to provide aid to our farmers who are tackling both new and ongoing challenges due to COVID-19. We have already distributed more than $20,000 to our farmers. Donate today to support our farmers!
What is the future of the Dane County Farmers' Market?
- Unless circumstances change dramatically, we will continue to host pick ups and markets on Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center for the remainder of our 2020 outdoor season, through November 7, 2020.
- As an independent organization entirely funded through stall fees collected from our vendors, the DCFM continues to evaluate its financial reserves and strategize on the best course of action so that we can serve our vendors now and well into the future.
How is the DCFM supporting its Hmong growers?
- Many customers and fellow DCFM vendors have expressed concern about how our Hmong growers are fairing in this rapidly evolving landscape which has become heavily reliant upon both electronic communications and sales methods.
- The DCFM communicates to all its growers across different channels to ensure understanding of up-to-date market operations and opportunities. For many of our Hmong members, this effort includes engaging our members' English speaking contacts (often a son or daughter) over email, hard copy letter, and conference call/phone.
- Approximately 20% of DCFM members are Hmong growers. Approximately 16% of our Local Food Pick Up participants are Hmong. Eight of the 45 Emergency Farmer Fund awardees to date are Hmong growers which is a proportional representation as both FairShare CSA Coalition and DCFM members are eligible for this aid.
- Although our Hmong members are using these DCFM opportunities at a proportional rate, we still want to do better.
- The DCFM is collaborating with a food system professional who is a part of the local Hmong community. DCFM Management is working closely with this contractor so that our Hmong members better understand how COVID-19 has impacted our market operations and future plans as well as the current opportunities available to them so that more of them can access these resources.
Will there be food trucks and/or craft vendors at the DCFM walk-up market at Willow Island?
- The City of Madison permits and regulates the arts & craft vendors, as well as the food carts, which normally flank the Dane County Farmers’ Market Saturday Market on the Square. Although we operate adjacently, there are no formal organizational ties between our organization and the food carts and the craft vendors. Our market is solely made up of Wisconsin producers of agricultural products.
- Interestingly, to be permitted as an essential food access point during COVID-19, we cannot operate our market with food trucks and/or craft vendors on site. Public Health Madison Dane County has explicitly stated to us that once there are food trucks and/or craft vendors on site (or music too, for example), then our event becomes a mass gathering. Instead of then being permitted as an essential food access point, we would then be permitted as a mass gathering and subject to the Forward Dane outdoor mass gathering limits. The limit on attendees for outdoor mass gatherings fluctuates depending on what phase of Forward Dane we are in, but is currently set at 25 people. Because of this we must operate as a essential food access point and must follow the rules set in place for this designation. As such, there will be no food trucks and/or craft vendors at DCFM markets at Willow Island.