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Tosa Farmers Market growth breaks one-day attendance record

July 1, 2014

Tosa Farmers Market expects its best year yet, as a record-breaking 3,500 people came out for its reopening Saturday, June 7.

But the market's high attendance is only one of its noteworthy milestones. This year, 75 vendor applications were received to fill up to 50 positions, and for the first time ever, the market is now accepting FoodShare (SNAP/EBT) redemptions.

"We're proud to say that our charming little market has gained a big reputation for excellence," said Katie Hassemer, Tosa Farmers Market manager.

TFM has grown steadily since opening five years ago in the parking lot across from Little Red Store at 7720 Harwood Ave., near the Village.

Held every Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon through October 18, the market has evolved into a destination for weekly grocery shoppers and patrons seeking to socialize with friends around live music with a cup of coffee.

Now, with the acceptance of FoodShare benefits, or SNAP/EBT, the market is even more accessible. Patrons can use their Quest card right at the market to purchase fresh, local food from vendors such as Wellspring organic produce.

Outpost Natural Foods has also created a SNAP/EBT matching program. The first 10 people at the market utilizing FoodShare on the third Saturday of every month will receive an additional $10 to spend.

In its first year, the market had about 20 vendors. Five years later, its vendor and patron attendance has doubled. On an average Saturday, 2,500 people trickle through the market, stopping at Valentine Coffee Co., Maxie's, Blue's Egg, and other beloved vendors for breakfast pastries or locally grown produce.

"It's exciting for us that we're popular and that vendors know us and trust us as a good, organized market that has great local customers," said Becca Kitelinger, market board member.

Here are other happenings at the market this year:

■ At 8:30 a.m., yoga at the market is offered with classes led by Haleybird Studios.

■ On the first Saturday of the month, local artists display pottery, paintings and photography in the east end of the parking lot.

■ "Make it at the market" workshops led by Cloud 9 Workshop is offered the third Saturday of the month so kids and families can make crafts from recycled materials.

■ Cooking demonstrations from Mount Mary University are offered the fourth Saturday of the month, using produce from Kettle Rock Farm.

At a glance:

What: Tosa Farmers Market

When: Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon until October 18

Where: 7720 Harwood Ave., right across from the Little Red Store

Who: Katie Hassemer, market manager,  414-301-2526

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