An Update on our 2020 Outdoor Season

It is with a very heavy heart that we announce that the Wisconsin Capitol Police has revoked the Dane County Farmers’ Market’s permit for the Capitol Square for the remainder of our 2020 outdoor season. We honor and respect this decision and ask that our customers do as well. While we are devastated to share this news and share in our community’s sadness and disappointment, this does NOT mean that the Dane County Farmers’ Market is closed for the season.

The core mission of the Dane County Farmers’ Market is to connect Wisconsin farmers and small food producers with the people who live in the greater-Madison area and we will continue to provide safe alternatives while we are unable to host the Saturday Market on the Wisconsin Capitol Square. Since April, we have been offering Local Food Pick Ups at Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center on both Wednesdays and Saturdays. Unless circumstances change dramatically, we will continue to be on Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center for the remainder of our 2020 outdoor season, through November 7, 2020.

We will continue to operate the pre-order, drive-thru Local Food Pick Up on Wednesdays and Saturdays, for the time being. As we now know that we will not be returning to the Capitol Square for our 2020 season, we can focus on adding a more traditional farmers’ market component to the Saturday Local Food Pick Up, with necessary safety precautions in place. Customers will still be able to pre-order and pre-pay for products from many different farmers within one transaction using our online marketplace on WhatsGood, and soon there will also be the option to shop in-person at the Market. We will continue to offer drive-thru pick up on Saturdays, as well. We will share additional details soon.

We will continue to share information on how to purchase directly from many of our farmers and small food businesses through various models including home delivery, CSA, and more.

The decision to cancel the Saturday Market around the Capitol Square was not made lightly. The Saturday Farmers’ Market around the Capitol Square has been a Madison tradition since 1972. Each Saturday from mid-April through mid-November, the Square is transformed into a bustling marketplace that regularly welcomes more than 150 Wisconsin farmers and small food producers, as well as 20,000 customers.

The Dane County Farmers’ Market has no higher priority than ensuring the health and safety of both its patrons and its vendors. Although many use the farmers’ market as a source of weekly groceries, many also use it as a social gathering place. In consultation with Public Health Madison & Dane County, the Wisconsin Capitol Police, and other stakeholders, we have come to understand that there is no way to safely and responsibly host the Saturday Market on the Capitol Square during the 2020 outdoor season. Furthermore, due to the restrictions in place, we have concluded that no modified version of our market operations downtown would adequately serve our farmers.

We understand that the Local Food Pick Ups do not replace the beloved Saturday Market around the Capitol Square. We too understand that our community is yearning for normalcy and being able to visit the Saturday Market on the Square would perfectly encapsulate ‘things being back to normal’. But we are not there yet. For those of you that are worried about our farmers’ livelihoods, try the Local Food Pick Ups, explore our resources to connect directly with farmers through on-farm pick-up or home delivery, and donate to our Emergency Farmer Fund.

One thing that we have learned from the pandemic is not to take things for granted. We are eternally thankful to our many customers who continue to buy fresh, local foods directly from the people who grow, raise, and make them.

Thank you for your enduring support of family farmers and small food businesses!

We love you,

The Dane County Farmers' Market