With the summer farmers market season nearly over, more growers are realizing their selling season doesn’t have to end as well.
There are about 25 winter farmers' markets in Wisconsin. That's more than four times the number from just five years ago. Coordinators are finding that more growers from inside and outside of the state want a piece of the action. But, retail space is limited. Deb Deacon is the marketing coordinator for the Milwaukee County winter farmers market. She says as recently as two years ago, many farmers she knew shunned the market for a variety of reasons. For one, they were concerned that the markets were so late in the year. Now, Deacon says she has to turn some away, “Oh my goodness, this year, and last I’ve estimated we’ve had 100 inquiries from all sorts of food producers and farmers.”
Some vendors have been frequenting winter markets for years and are happy with the results. Carrie Flyte of Waushara County sells in the Milwaukee area, “You know I do it mainly for the dry beans that I grow its one of our newer products, I like to get the word out that we have dry edible beans it’s the time of the year you’d use that product so it’s kind of a service I do for my customers.”
The number of winter farmer’s markets aren't just growing in Wisconsin. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2010, there were nearly 900 markets, in 2011 that number increased to just over 1,200.