Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Do you support Janesville Farmers Market rules?

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Greg Peck
Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I always look forward to the reopening of the Janesville Farmers Market. It's another sign that nice weather is finally here (or coming soon). As Catherine W. Idzerda reports in today's Gazette, the downtown market opens for the season Saturday.

One rule is being re-implemented, and one remains steadfast.

A year or two ago, my wife and I took our dog, Molly, along to the market a couple of times after it relaxed its ban. Molly is rather timid as Cairn terriers go, and we had no fear she'd bite anyone. Kids enjoyed petting her. While there one time, we met neighbors who had brought their docile greyhounds, only to be told these larger dogs weren't allowed without muzzles. The couple had no intentions of muzzling their dogs, they told us in frustration, and also had no plans to ever again shop at the market.

Later, when we learned the market would require us to carry a dog as small as Molly—or muzzle her, too—we stopped taking her. She's too heavy to carry when we can spend an hour or two shopping and visiting with friends, neighbors and acquaintances.

Now, the market is returning to its ban on dogs, Idzerda reported.

Some people have no problem with dogs at a farmers market. Others do, including two of my colleagues who voiced support for the renewed ban at a Gazette editors meeting Monday.

The Beloit Farmers Market has allowed dogs for years. Owners let their animals get acquainted while the owners chat, and kids stop to pet the animals. If problems arise, they apparently aren't enough for the Beloit market to consider a ban.

That's not the only reason Beloit's downtown market is far bigger and draws far more customers than downtown Janesville's. The other reason, apparently, is that Beloit attracts many more vendors because it doesn't limit sellers to those who grow or make products only in Wisconsin.

Janesville's market only allows Wisconsin products. That, market manager Stephanie Aegerter explained, keeps local farmers from being undercut by vendors who grow produce elsewhere or buy it from distributors, and it allows customers to connect with local farmers and learn about their products.

I have mixed feelings about the dog ban. But I have no problem with this local/state vendors rule that, while limiting product choices, makes the Janesville Farmers Market unique to this area.

What about you?

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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