The Winter Farmers Market runs from November through April. It is hosted at Raw Deal from 9 am until 1 pm on Saturdays. While the summer Market has been running for many years, the Winter Market has only been in operation since 2016. It sprung from vendors at the Market in the summer having additional products to sell, and the desire of the community for the Market to operate year-round. The first year saw little vendor turnout, but there are now more than 20 different vendors participating, and many others are on a waiting list. While fresh produce is limited at the Winter Market, vendors often include locally produced meat, cheese, jams, eggs, and bread, along with locally crafts and gifts. They are currently seeking to purchase a building of their own for the future.
Prerequisites for Vendor Participation
In order to qualify for a spot at the Winter Market, a vendor must be participating in summer beforehand. All vendors must produce their own products--resellers or re-labeling is not permitted. All vendors must file their paperwork and pay membership dues in advance, with returning vendors being able to file prior to others. Lastly, all products must be produced within a 30-mile radius of Menomonie, with exceptions granted at the discretion of the administrative staff.
There is fierce competition to obtain a space at the Winter Market due to the limited space availableat the chosen venue (currently Raw Deal), and priority goes to returning vendors before turning to wait-listed vendors. There are a wide variety of vendors participating in 2017, with products that range from squash and meat, to soaps and jewelry. There is currently a single vendor that is certified as organic, while a few others are practicing organic farming methods but are not yet certified. Some vendors have contracts to sell to restaurants, but those are not organized by the Market itself.
Winter Market and Food Insecurity
While the vendors and the Market donate produce to organizations like Stepping Stones in the summer, in winter there is nothing left to donate. While the Market's primary customer base tends to be financially well-off individuals, the Market as a whole accepts EBT, and numerous vendors accept other forms of food aid (SNAP, WIC, etc.). Despite this, very few people who are food insecure come to shop. The Market is making a concerted effort to inform food insecure people in the community that they can shop at the Market with their food assistance, and come away with healthy food.
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