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Dane County Farmers' Market

May 19, 2018

Today we got to experience one of the greatest perks that comes with living in Madison: The Dane County Farmers' Market (DCFM).

For those not familiar, the DCFM is "the largest producer-only farmers' market in the U.S.  All items are produced locally by the vendor behind the table.  No resale is allowed."  Every Saturday from mid-April to mid-November (6:15am to 1:45pm rain or shine), 150+ vendors line the Madison Capitol Square with their produce and products.

For the following reasons, we highly recommend giving the DCFM a visit:

  1. You're able to see what's in season, and thus, know what to be cooking with. This week, it was clear that asparagus, green onions (scallions), radishes, morel mushrooms, tomatoes, ramps, and leafy greens stole the show.  To stay up-to-date with what to expect at each market, we encourage you to sign up to their e-newsletter.  In addition, this page on their site lets you know what's fresh the current week, through pictures on the bottom of the page.
  2. There's a good chance that you'll run into a few familiar faces each week if you're a Madisonian.  At the very least, you'll feel welcomed by the vendors and the locals.
  3. The downtown architecture is amazing.  Whether it's the Wisconsin State Capitol, the Monona Terrace, or any of the shops lining the Square, you're sure to be impressed.
  4. There's something for everyone.  In addition to the countless food stands, local musicians and artists fill the east blocks of State Street showing off their crafts.
  5. You're financially supporting local farmers, businesses, and individuals.  Organizers make sure that everything sold at the event was grown/produced in Wisconsin.
  6. You'll get your fair share of exercise.  Taking into account that one lap around the Square is roughly 3/4 miles, you can rack up quite the mileage by the time you're done taking a few laps and visiting local shops.
  7. You're able to see the individuals and local businesses who, day after day, strive to present us with the best of the best in their areas of expertise.  In addition to putting a face and name to a certain product, it's also nice to have them there to answer any questions you might have.

To those who have yet to visit the Dane County Farmers' Market but intend to, we'll leave you with the following pieces of advice:

  1. Walk the Square counterclockwise.  Trust us, you don't want to be that one person walking against the crowd.
  2. If you're not a fan of large crowds, get there early.  By 9am or so, the Square really starts to fill up.
  3. If you don't mind large crowds, get there for their last hour, as there are many last minutes deals.
  4. Bring your own bags.  While many vendors will supply you with plastic bags, this benefit to us is a cost to them.  Besides, it's environmentally friendly.
  5. Take more than one lap around the Square.  With each additional lap, you're bound to see something you missed the previous time, or run into someone new.
  6. This may seem obvious, but make sure you have cash on you; no cards or checks are accepted.
  7. Not sure what to do for parking?  Although it is possible to find parking spots on the road, it's often a challenge.  Luckily, there are plenty of parking garages nearby, almost always costing just a few bucks.
  8. Lastly, for those of us with pets, please keep your furry friends at home as they are not allowed.

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