When most outdoor farmers’ markets are concluding their season in early November, the Milwaukee County Winter Farmers Market (MCWFM) is just beginning. Opening on Saturday, November 6 and running from 8:00 am until noon at the Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center at the State Fair Park, this year’s market builds on last year’s resounding success. Parking for the MCWFM is always free, plentiful, and close by.

With approximately 32 vendors, this season the MCWFM will expand into a second room during the months of November and December. To help build on the quality, uniqueness, and diversity of last season’s offerings, Deacon spent much of this summer scouring area farmers’ markets to find the very best additions to this season’s roster of food producers.

More and more people are realizing that Wisconsin’s growing season extends far beyond Thanksgiving, Christmas, and well into the new year. The use of hoop houses with plastic coverings similar to a green house vastly extends the season for lettuce, spinach, and mixed greens. Superior storage techniques allow locally grown carrots, potatoes, onions, parsnips, and more, to be offered until early spring. Quality produce from HighCross Farm, JenEhr Family Farm, Pinehold Gardens, and Gitto Family Farm will complement mushrooms from River Valley Ranch and sorghum from Rolling Meadows Sorghum Mill.

Another important feature of the market is its ability to accept the Quest Card for FoodShare benefits (formerly known as food stamps). During late fall to early spring the MCWFM improves access for low-income households to healthy, affordable, locally produced food.

Deacon says results from last year’s inaugural market exceeded her expectations. She anticipates more of the same. “It’s everything I hoped for in helping to develop a sense of community,” she says. “I’ve had customers tell me this market is a wonderful gift. That’s my reward. You know it’s theoretically possible to create a winter farmers’ market, but to see it evolve is something to treasure.”

The market runs from 8:00 am until noon each Saturday from November 6, 2010 through April 30, 2011 (closed on November 27, Christmas and New Year’s Day). For a list of producers and their attendance dates at the market, recipes, maps, news, and more, go towww.mcwfm.org.

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