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Janesville Farmers Market opens season under gray skies

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ANN MARIE AMES
May 8, 2011
— Standing out among a rainbow of hanging baskets from Skelly’s Farm Market was a royal purple wave petunia the size of a picnic table. Its sweet smell competed with the smell of another batch of Elmer Scott’s kettle corn bursting into life across the street.

“If we’re not getting spring from the weather, we’ll get it from the flowers,” said Cheryl Skelly, enjoying the scent of her products.


Sometimes, you just have to fake it until you make it.


That seemed to work for shoppers Saturday morning at the first Janesville Farmers Market of the season. Despite the cool weather and overcast sky, a good crowd strolled through the market.


Some of them strolled into downtown businesses as well.


“This is a good day,” said Matt Schreier, owner of the Looking Glass, 18 N. Main St.


Schreier serves breakfast during the farmers market season—which will continue through October. The market provides him foot traffic, and he encourages diners to check out the market, Schreier said.


“We have had a good amount of customers coming in,” Schreier said. “I think we’re poised for a good season.”


This year Schreier is trying to sell breakfast sandwiches and coffee to go so shoppers can eat and walk, he said.


Another “walk-and-eat” snack is new to the farmers market this year. In the Thao Egg Rolls tent, Pa Yang was busy making spring rolls and egg rolls. It was Yang’s first time selling at any farmers market, and her product went over well. She was sold out of spring rolls by 11:30 a.m.


Also new to the market is a “paint your own bowl” tent sponsored by ECHO. For a $5 donation, customers can paint a clay bowl. The bowl will be glazed and can be picked up the next week at the market.


The project is a fundraiser for ECHO and for Caritas, a food and clothing pantry in Beloit Township.


The other notable new addition to the market was manager Theresa Feiner, a Wisconsin native who soon will graduate from UW-Madison and move on toward a master’s degree in urban planning.


Feiner chatted with workers at every stall, learning the names of vendors and regulars at the market. She has observed that Janesville is a very community-oriented city, she said. She also recognizes that a large part of the population is low income and qualifies for the vouchers that are distributed by local food pantries and can be used to buy fresh food and produce at the market.


She wants to make sure low-income families feel welcome at the farmers market and make good use of the food available, Feiner said.


“In my dream world, everyone can afford to come down,” Feiner said.


“It’s really my philosophy that farmers markets are not just about catering to the wealthier crowd that can afford fresh, organic produce.”


IF YOU GO


What: Janesville Farmers Market


When: Market hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through October .


Where: The market is held along two blocks in downtown Janesville beginning at the corner of Main and Milwaukee streets.


Details: Products, depending on the season, will include produce, meat, eggs, cheese, honey and baked goods.


To learn more: Those interested in vending can call Theresa Feiner, market manager, at (608) 289-9292. Questions can be emailed to the board at board@janesvillefarmersmarket.com or mailed to Janesville Farmers Market, P.O. Box 143, Janesville, WI, 53547-0143.



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