Fresh food found local

Story by Michelle Enger, Chief Copy Editor

Fresh produce, meats and bakery items may be hard to come by during the winter months in Wisconsin, but it shouldn’t be a problem for the residents of Eau Claire. Not even for temporary residents like university students.

The Eau Claire farmer’s market is not only a summer occasion; it is also a monthly winter event.  In fact, the farmer’s market never actually ends. Beginning in November, the winter farmer’s market is held every second Saturday of the month.

Senior Tyler Dickinson said he has been to about five or six farmer’s markets in Eau Claire. He said he has bought various products from the market including honey, egg rolls, peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables.

Dickinson grew up going to the farmer’s market and said he likes how fresh the products are when you buy them.

“The products are locally grown and cheaper than at the grocery store,” said Dickinson. “It’s also a great way to support local businesses. It’s really is a win-win for both sides.”

Chris Winkler, manager of the Eau Claire Downtown Winter Farmer’s Market, said she sees people in the community with a desire to reconnect with the small grower and help support the small local economy.

“I think it’s important because it allows students (and) community members to interact with the farmers or producers of the product and we are supporting the local economy,” Winkler said.

With about 15 to 20 vendors at the winter farmer’s market, Winkler said there is a nice assortment of products. Goods include fish, pork, chicken, honey, salsa, fruit toppings, popcorn, cheese and maple syrup.

Trisha Sundal of Eat My Fish fish farm in Menomonie has been a vendor at the winter farmer’s market for two years. She said winter is usually a slow time of year for farmers so the winter market is a great way to increase revenue.

She said it is nice to have a farmer’s market in the winter so that people have the option of getting fresh products from locals.

“It benefits the community because the community has an option to get fresh local food year round and not just in the summer,” Sundal said.

Another incentive for consumers to attend the winter market is for the gift basket drawing. Winkler said the vendors bring treats, combine them into a basket and people can enter to win.

However, even without a gift basket drawing, Winkler said the farmer’s market has loyal and faithful customers.

“We just really have a healthy following of consumers that are really concerned with what they eat and where that food was grown or produced.”

The winter farmer’s market is held in the L.E. Phillips Senior Center from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. every second Saturday of the month.