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 Local Food Pick Ups 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?
- Per our announcement linked above, 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, primarily through our Local Food Pick Ups on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
- Patrons can buy directly from our farmers via home delivery, on-farm pick up, and e-commerce using this Google Doc.
- 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.
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. The Local Food Pick Ups 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 COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the resilience of local food systems and proven the value of healthy, local foods in nourishing our communities and creating thriving economies. In particular, this is a moment of growth and innovation for businesses of all kinds. However, conducting business during COVID-19 is expensive: it is supplies-, staff-, and time-intensive. The best way to support our farmers is to continue to purchase their delicious local foods from them via our Local Food Pick Ups 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 raised close to $47,000 in this fund and 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 Local Food Pick Ups on Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center for the remainder of our 2020 outdoor season, through November 7, 2020.
- As we now know that we will not be returning to the Capitol Square for our 2020 season, we will focus on adding a more traditional farmers’ market component to the Saturday Local Food Pick Up. We are currently referring to this market as a 'hybrid' model - where patrons can pre-order via our WhatsGood online store if they desire, but can also shop directly from farmers' stands for day-of purchases.
- We will share details about this addition to our operations as soon as we can.
- 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 communications 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 has recently finalized a contract with a food system professional who is a part of the local Hmong community. DCFM Management will work 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.