UW-Madison PhD student Jacob Hellman attempts to sell jewelry to customers at his stand Wearable Archaeologies, a job he said “doesn’t feel like a job” because of his love for it.Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger and Cameron Lane-Flehinger
Long waits for local markets prove beneficial
It’s a Saturday morning in early October. Any glimpse of the summer sunshine is slowly fading, occasionally peeking out from behind the clouds and radiating warmth on your skin. With a bag of vegetables in your left hand and a loaf of Stella’s Bakery cheese bread in your right, you look on the Capitol Square grass and see nothing less than AcroYoga, running toddlers and couples on brunch dates.
Many UW-Madison students can relate to this euphoria if they’ve visited the Dane County Farmers’ Market.
What one can understand about the market, however, is usually limited to personal observations while strolling around. But those involved with the market, including Alfonso Morales, Sarah Elliott, Josh Lubenau and Jacob Hellman, understand the market’s inner workings — how one gets a booth as well as the benefits the market has on the community.
Farmers’ markets were generally “a response by white middle-class consumers to remember where their food came from,” said Morales, a UW-Madison professor of urban and regional planning. When grocery stores’ popularity increased in the 1920s and ‘30s, the number of markets and street vendors decreased.
Morales said eventually, consumers came to question the produce in grocery stores, wondering, “Why do we only get two types of tomatoes? Why don’t they taste like what I remember my grandparents’ tomatoes to taste like when I was a kid?” In Madison in 1972, the Dane County Farmers’ Market began.
Typically, he said, markets are a substitute for grocery stores, where you would spend that money otherwise. And because one doesn’t necessarily have more money to spend on market produce instead of grocery goods, there is no direct growth of the economy.
Yet, Morales said, “There is probably a net gain [for the community]. It’s a big tourist thing, something to brag about, socially, [in the] community, politically and more.”