Tosa Farmers Market attracts more vendors in fifth year

At last year’s farmers market, Jess and Keenan Taylor (left) shop for a tomato plant from Kelly Kiefer of the Three Sisters Community Farm of Campbellsport. The market returns June 7.

At last year’s farmers market, Jess and Keenan Taylor (left) shop for a tomato plant from Kelly Kiefer of the Three Sisters Community Farm of Campbellsport. The market returns June 7.

June 3, 2014

Opening for its fifth season June 7, Tosa Farmers Market Manager Katie Hassemer said she expects the market to continue growing in popularity after drawing an average 1,500 customers each Saturday last year.

Hassemer said the market received more applications from vendors than ever, allowing the volunteer organizers to carefully select the 49 they thought would be most popular and complementary. About 75 percent of last year's vendors are returning.

"We were really able to curate what we feel is a really balanced diverse market this year," Hassemer said.

After hearing from customers looking for more meat options, Hassemer said the group accepted new vendors this year selling pork, beef, lamb, chicken, bison, turkey and fish. Another new vendor is Sugar Bee Farm, which grows oyster mushrooms on an urban farm in Milwaukee.

Looking to bring in more unique products, the market will also have some tables where vendors will rotate in on different weeks. They will include companies selling lavender, herbal tea and hot sauces.

More engagement

Hassemer said she hopes to engage more of the community this year with interactive activities, in addition to continuing last year's tradition of weekly live music.

One Wauwatosa resident will teach "Make It at the Market" art classes on the third Saturday of each month. For a couple dollars, kids and adults can learn to make a market-themed craft they can take home.

Students from Mount Mary University plan to offer classes on how to cook seasonally, with produce straight from the market, every fourth Saturday of the month.

For kids, bingo sheets will be available at the information booth to guide them around the market, leading them to ask questions about products. For Hassemer, those connections are what the market is all about.

"For me, it's really about connecting to food and the people who grow it," Hassemer said. "When you have a face behind the business producing the food you love, and you know it's local, that's what drives me to be part of it."

Options for FoodShare recipients

For the first time this year, FoodShare recipients can use their Quest cards to buy food from vendors. Volunteers at the information booth will exchange money from the Quest cards for wooden tokens, which can be used as currency at most tables.

To encourage more people to use FoodShare at the market, Outpost Natural Foods is offering to double the benefits by giving an extra $10 in tokens to people who spend $10 from their Quest card. There is enough money for up to 10 families to take advantage of the program per month.

If you go:

When: 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays starting June 7

Where: 7720 Harwood Ave.

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