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How to support local farmers despite canceled Dane County Farmers’ Market

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The Dane County Farmers’ Market canceled for the first time since 1972 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The market's closure is changing the way people get their food, but it’s mostly impacting local farmers and their abilities to sell produce. 

“They’ve had to deal with restaurant closures, they’ve had to deal with our market cancellations which has severely disrupted the income that they count on,” Jill Carlson Groendyk, Assistant Market Manager of the Dane County Farmers’ Market said. 

Groendyk added while the farmers market is closed, there are still ways for people to support local farms until the market returns. 

You can directly contact local vendors and buy produce from them by visiting the Dane County Farmers’ Market Vendors list

From there, you organize a convenient pick-up spot with the vendor. They will place your food in your trunk while avoiding physical contact. 

“This list is updated on a daily to weekly basis to connect our farmers with patrons,” Groendyk said. “They work out a pickup location and they can communicate over a Facebook Page, text, or email.”

The market also organized a local food pick up pilot program, it’s a new way for customers to connect directly with family farmers. 

People order food in bundles, drive to a designated pick up location that’s chosen by the market, and get their produce placed in their trunk.

“This is very much a pre-order and prepay drive thru model,” Groendyk said. “This really reduces any number of contact that happens because the majority of customers literally drive through and get their food placed in their trunk.”

Beyond these efforts, market organizers also created an emergency farmer fund to help local vendors who aren’t able to sell items during this time. 

“We’ve already begun to award grants to our farmers to aid them during this difficult time,” Groendyk said. 

They’ve already raised $22,000 from community donations, and they hope to continue growing that number to support more farmers impacted by this pandemic. 

“Our community can literally support our farmers by donating to our emergency farmer fund and all of those donations will go directly to our farmers,” Groendyk said. 

According to Groendyk, they are hoping to create a special guide and a new way to help connect farmers and customers more efficiently. More details on that process will be shared soon from the Dane County Farmers’ Market.

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Alyssa Hui

WKOW News

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