It’s time to stock up and preserve the harvest here in Wisconsin.  Many farmers’ market shoppers have been busy lately, putting up canned tomatoes, dilly beans, salsa and various jams and jellies.  Canning is just one option, however.  For many people, freezing is an easier and more tasty choice.

Tomatoes and Peppers

Frozen fruits and veggies do not need extra salt, sugar or acid to be safe.  Some vegetables will benefit from a process called blanching.  To blanch vegetables, simple put them in boiling water for a short amount of time.  The amount of time varies with different vegetables.  For best results, consult a blanching chart to get the time right.  You do not want to cook the veggies, just to kill the enzymes and bacteria that can cause faster spoilage.  After blanching, cool your vegetables quickly in an ice water bath or cold running water.  Then dry them before placing in freezer bags.  Frozen fruits and vegetables will keep for up to six months in the freezer.

Blanch before freezing: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, beans, asparagus, peas, and corn

Wash and slice: peppers, herbs

Freeze separately on a cookie sheet, then bag: berries, cooked sweet potatoes, cooked squash cubes

For even longer storage, you will want to use a vacuum sealer. Watch the video below to see how easy it is to use a modern vacuum sealer. Produce that has been properly vacuum sealed and frozen will keep up to five times as long as items that are just bagged in a zipper top bag.

 

This year, our market has been participating in a program called Discover Market Fresh. Through this program, we have been able to offer vacuum sealing with a FoodSaver System at our market July through September. Stop by the Janesville Farmers Market booth to learn more about vacuum sealing and pick up a coupon for FoodSaver products.

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It's that time of year! Time to stock up on local flavor and support your farmers. What do you love to preserve most? Discover Market Fresh

Posted by Janesville Farmers Market, Inc on Monday, September 14, 2015

Please take a moment to complete this survey and help improve our local market.

This survey does not have a text option, so feel free to add your comments in the “leave a reply” section below. Thanks for your help!

Janesville Farmers Market is researching whether we should add a weekday market in downtown Janesville. Please share your opinion below.


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Fun Shaped Noodles and CheeseMaking Macaroni and Cheese More Local

June is Dairy Month, which is a great time to take a new look at your consumption of milk and cheese. Are you supporting local farmers with your choices? Here in Wisconsin, it is easy to find locally raised dairy products both in the store and at the farmers’ market. Janesville Farmers Market features local cheese from cows or goats.  Try something new!

Cheese has many health benefits.  Some experts even believe that cheese will be the next big health food. (source)  Cheese is well-known as a good source of protein and calcium.  Even better, cheese is a good source of vitamin K2, which is essential to the proper use of calcium in the body.  Vitamin K2 is typically produced by bacterial fermentation and is very different from K1, which we get from green vegetables. (source)

You can expect to hear much more about vitamin K2 in the near future.  It is being heavily researched for its role in cardiac health, bone health and even preventing wrinkles.  Besides cheese, other sources of K2 include Natto (a strong-tasting fermented soybean product) and pasture-raised butter and egg yolks.  The vitamin K2 and the calcium in cheese are not destroyed by cooking.

If you have trouble digesting dairy products, you may wish to try the Mac & Uncheese suggestions below.  There are many dairy free cheese options available in stores.  Unfortunately, dairy free cheese does not supply the same vitamins and minerals as the real thing.  If lactose is your problem, you may be able to tolerate some types of hard cheese and other highly fermented dairy products.

Local Mac & Cheese

Local Mac & Cheese

12 ounces uncooked pasta (look for a local brand, see links below)
3 Tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing pan
½ cup fresh or dried bread crumbs
1 small onion, minced (spring onions will also work)
¼ – ½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 ½ cups Wisconsin milk
2 Tablespoons flour, arrowroot starch or cornstarch
2 ½ cups local cheese (*shred and combine 2-3 of your favorites)

*Shredding Tip: Freeze softer cheeses for a couple hours before shredding.

Cook the pasta in broth or water, according to package directions. Be careful not to overcook it. Reserve one cup of the starchy cooking water.  Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water.

While the pasta is cooking, melt 1 Tablespoon of the butter and toss with the breadcrumbs. Set aside. Melt the remaining butter in a medium saucepan and sauté the diced onion until it is translucent. Add the salt, pepper and paprika. Stir the flour into the butter or, if using arrowroot or cornstarch, stir the starch into the cold milk. Add the milk slowly to the butter mixture, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk until the mixture comes to a boil and begins to thicken.

Turn off the heat and stir in the shredded cheese. Add some of the pasta cooking water, if needed, to make a creamy sauce that is pourable but not too runny.  Mix the cheese sauce with the pasta and pour into a buttered, deep casserole dish. Spread the buttered bread crumbs on top and bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are beginning to turn golden.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Serving suggestion: Serve baked Mac and Cheese with some fermented veggies or a fresh salad dressed with oil and vinegar.  The fermented veggies or salad will provide raw enzymes to help you digest the protein and fat in the cooked food.  (You will learn how to make your own fermented veggies in our July Wellness Wednesday Class.)

Vegan GF Mac & CheeseGluten Free/ Dairy Free Mac UnCheese

Follow the directions above, but substitute gluten free pasta (brown rice pasta works well) and gluten free bread crumbs. Use coconut oil or a non-dairy spread for the butter.  Use rice milk or broth for the milk.  Add non-dairy “cheese” such as Daiya or Follow Your Heart and 1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast.

Vegetable Mix-in Ideas

  • broccoli – add to pasta cooking water toward the end of cooking
  • shelled peas
  • green beans
  • pureed squash, carrots or sweet potatoes
  • garlic and fresh herbs – cook with the butter and onions

Other Variations – “Grown up” Mac & Cheese

  • Cook the pasta in chicken broth and add cooked chicken (local, of course).
  • Add cooked local bacon or ham.
  • Add fresh herbs, such as basil.
  • Include a few ounces of blue cheese or swiss in your cheese mixture.
  • Substitute goat milk and goat cheese for all or part of the cheese blend.
  • Try flavored cheeses, such as Garlic Cheddar or Horseradish Havarti.

If you really want to think outside the box, try substituting your favorite whole grain for the pasta, as in the Quinoa Mac and Cheese Recipe below.  To make a grain free version, substitute a bean-based pasta (see links below) or coarsely chopped veggies (try green beans, julienned kohlrabi, or chopped cauliflower) for the pasta.

Additional Recipe Links and Ingredient Sources:

 

IMG_3213Upcoming Wellness Wednesday Classes at Basics Cooperative

  • Preserving the Harvest with Fermentation – 6pm Wednesday, July 15th
  • Basic Skills for Raw Food (Un)cooking – 6pm Wednesday, August 19th
  • Curb Your Sugar Cravings with Orange Veggies – 6pm Wednesday, September 16

Spring Salads – Loving those Greens!

Spring salad greens are here!  If you don’t like salad, maybe you just haven’t tried the right greens yet!  There are many great varieties that have more nutrition and flavor than those boring iceberg leaves!  Try them alone or make your own mix.  Of course, if iceberg is your thing, that’s alright too.  You may wish to start out by mixing a few new flavors into your usual salad.

Greens to try in salads:

  • Arugula – also called “Rocket” – this dark green adds a nice spicy/peppery flavor
  • Baby field greens – usually a mix of red and green lettuces, may contain other greens and fresh herbs
  • Endive – the curly kind is more common, it tends to be crisp and slightly bitter
  • Frisee – feathery and pale green, frisee adds texture and bitter flavor
  • Escarole – looks like leaf lettuce, with a mild spicy and bitter taste
  • Radicchio – purpley red with white veins, adds crunch and “bite”
  • Mizuna – spike-leaved and spicy flavored

amazing grace lettuce

Washing and Storage

Most greens will store best unwashed.  If you plan to eat the greens within a few days, you may want to wash them ahead of time and have them ready to go.  (Ready-to-eat greens may be more likely to actually get eaten.)  The key to storage is to keep the fresh greens dry.  Swish the greens in several changes of fresh water, then use a salad spinner or towels to get most of the moisture out.   A salad spinner with a solid bowl is great for washing and drying.  Add a splash of food grade hydrogen peroxide or apple cider vinegar to the wash water on the first or second wash.  Finally, spin or blot dry.  Store in a refrigerator container or zippered bag.

Dressing and Serving

Homemade salad dressing is a quick and simple way to ensure that you are eating fresh, high quality oils while avoiding unnecessary additives.  Both the oil and the vinegar help with digestion and absorption of the nutrients in your salad.  Store your fresh dressing in the fridge for up to a week, but bring it to room temperature and shake well before serving.  If purchasing a pre-made dressing, look for one made with extra virgin olive oil.  Avoid canola and soybean oils, artificial additives, msg and excess sodium.

Basic Salad Dressing (recipe adapted from Nourishing Traditions)

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (Paeleon Olive Oil)
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, red wine and rice vinegars are all good choices)
  • 1 tablespoon expeller-pressed flax oil (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard

Place all ingredients in a pint-sized mason jar.  Put the lid on tightly and shake vigorously until emulsified.  Serve immediately or re-shake as needed.

Salad with Blue Cheese

Dressing Add-ins/ Variations

  • Garlic: 1 clove garlic, chopped or pressed
  • Herb: 1 teaspoon finely chopped herbs (parsley, thyme, tarragon, basil, oregano)
  • Creamy: ¼ cup creme fraiche or yogurt plus ¼ cup quality mayonnaise
  • Blue Cheese: 2-4 Tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
  • Sun Dried Tomato: 1 tsp. sun-dried tomato flakes and 1 tsp. chopped chives or green onions.

Healthy “Ranch” Dressing

  • ½ cup whole milk yogurt
  • ¼ cup quality mayonnaise or homemade mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon snipped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley or 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 pinch chili powder
  • Salt to taste

Whisk everything together with a fork and serve over greens or as a dipping sauce for fresh veggies.

Upcoming Wellness Wednesday Classes at Basics Cooperative

Think Outside the Box with Local Mac & Cheese, 6 – 7 pm, June 17th

June is dairy month, and we think you’ll be inspired to get creative with local cheese in a favorite comfort food.  Dairy and gluten free recipes will be included.

Preserving the Harvest with Fermentation, 6 – 7 pm, July 15th

Learn to make your own live, fermented vegetables.  We’ll cover sauerkraut and its variations, along with some fermented veggies that may be new to you.

Join us at the Janesville Farmers Market Saturdays 8am – 1pm
on West Wall Street in Downtown Janesville.

JFM West Wall Street

PNOOP = Products Not Of Own Production, a term originally coined by Los Angeles Times writer David Karp to describe the act of selling something at a farmers’ market that you did not produce, while claiming to have grown or made the item yourself.

Janesville Farmers Market is a producers’ market.  This means that the vendors selling the food and other products are the same people responsible for growing or producing those products.  When a vendor signs up to sell products at the Janesville Farmers’ Market, (s)he is required to sign a form stating: “I acknowledge these products must be of my own production and produced at the location described on my application, with the exception of items approved in writing by the JFM Manager or Board of Directors.”

The producer-only rule and vendor statement are designed to ensure that items you purchase at the Janesville Farmers Market are coming from the local farmers and businesses who sell them.  This rule helps protect local producers from unfair competition.  The few exemptions from the producer-only rule are permissions that have been granted to long-time vendors for a small amount of Wisconsin-grown products that are needed at our market.  One example of an exemption is the mushrooms sold by Sashay Acres.  The mushrooms are a small percentage of the total items sold by the vendor and also fill a need in our market.

Why is accountability important to a farmers’ market?

If you are reading this post, you are probably aware of the growing “local food” movement.  There is no denying that local food is popular right now, and for good reason.  Local food is good for our bodies and for our communities.  We are helping small farmers to stay in business.  We are encouraging responsible farming practices.  We are developing and restoring our connection to the land.

The popularity of the local food movement, however, means that everyone is trying to jump on the bandwagon.  In this competitive environment, it is authenticity that sets a genuine farmers’ market apart.

A big box store wannabe!

A big box store wannabe!

Enforcement of the producer-only rule.

As a small, nonprofit market, we freely admit that we do not have the time to investigate all of our vendors every year to make sure they are complying with the producer-only rule.  We do reserve the right to do inspections as needed.  Some markets have a group of volunteers or even a paid position who do regular inspections.  California even has a statewide audit and certification program for market farmers.  The costs of the statewide audit program are covered by a fee that is paid by farmers’ market vendors in that state.

As our market grows, we may need to establish additional rules and methods of enforcement.  For the time being, please contact the market manager if you suspect that a vendor is re-selling a product not of own production (PNOOP).  If you have strong reason to believe that an inspection is necessary, please utilize our Grievance Form.  Also, please read the lists below to help you recognize the difference between a true PNOOPer and an honest vendor.  Together we can help ensure that the products you purchase at our community market are as local as possible.

What are some signs of “PNOOPing” that you might see at farmers’ markets?

  • Produce that is too perfect.  Although our farmers grow nice stuff, you should find an assortment of shapes and sizes, often with fresh-looking leaves attached.
  • Produce that is out of season.  Ask the vendor, though, because some products can be grown in hoop-houses, greenhouses, under row covers, etc.
  • Produce that does not grow in Wisconsin.  You will never find bananas, avocados, mangoes or pineapples at our market.
  • Produce with plu stickers or sticky spots where grocery store stickers were once affixed.
  • Prices that are significantly cheaper than other vendors with similar items.
  • Vendor is seen removing plastic wrap or other packaging before putting the items on display.

Sometimes you may wrongly suspect that a vendor has committed a PNOOP.  Here are a few honest things that you may see at a producer-market.

  • Out-of season produce grown through the use of season extension methods or hydroponics.  You may find greenhouse tomatoes, early hoop-house greens and storage vegetables at unusual times of the year.  As the farmers’ market movement grows, so will the abilities of local farms to meet consumer demands through various season extension methods.
  • Nursery tags on plants.  While some farms and nurseries will have hand-written tags, those printed ones with the nice photos of flowering plants are available for farmers to purchase with their seeds.  The presence of nice tags usually does not indicate a violation of the producer-only rule.
  • Produce boxes similar to those seen in a grocery store.  Many farmers purchase professional produce boxes or re-use boxes from the supermarket.Farmer with hoe
  • Vendors who don’t “look like” farmers.  Many vendors farm part time and work another job during the week.  They may not wear overalls or work clothes on their farms or at the market.  Also, some vendors rely on family members to sell their products at the market.
  • Crafts, such as personal care products, that are beautifully packaged in professional-looking containers.  Some vendors may still choose more rustic designs, but professional-looking cellophane packages, glass jars and even plastic lip balm containers can be purchased and adorned at home with fancy, computer-made labels.
  • Produce that is nicely washed and packaged.  Vendors can (and usually do) wash the dirt off their produce before bringing it to the market.  They may also package it in nice containers.

Raleighs with customer

When in doubt, ask a farmer and talk to the market manager.  These face to face interactions help build trust and encourage authenticity.  Check out the links below for more information about the movement to increase the accountability of producer-only farmers’ markets:

The Real Deal, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture

Truth & Transparency Webinar, Farmers Market Coalition

 

We are finally getting some warm spring days here in Wisconsin.  With a cool crispness to our mornings, we still have cool breezes and a few downright chilly days.  Although we are starting to crave fresh greens and salads as they start to become locally available, there is still a place in our meals for a warm bowl of soup.  Creamy vegetable soups are a great complement to spring salads and a nice way to use up those storage veggies to make room for summer’s bounty.

The first part of any good soup recipe is a good stock.  Stock can be made from vegetables, meat, bones or any combination of these items.  If it is made from only vegetables, it is called vegetable broth.  It will contain the minerals and rich flavor from the vegetables that are used, especially potassium.  Stock made from bones is called bone broth.  It may contain minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, in small amounts.  It will also contain gelatin and the amino acids glycine and glutamine.  I’ve included links to some broth recipes below.  Both types of broth are beneficial and tasty in the creamy soup recipes that follow.

Texture is important for our enjoyment of food and for the satiety signals that are sent to our brains.  This is good news for fans of creamy textured, blended soups.  There is evidence that blended soups actually help you feel full longer than thin soups, even without added fat or calories.  The following hearty soups can be made with or without out dairy and meat.  They are delicious and satisfying either way.  I’ve included optional stir-in ideas, but feel free to use your own creative ideas at home.

Creamy Cashew Carrot Soup

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1 ½ cups raw cashews

sea salt

filtered water

1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Optional spices: ginger, thyme or sage (use about 1 tsp. of your favorite dried herb or chopped fresh)

1 quart stock or veggie broth (see recipe links below)

salt and pepper to taste

Optional stir-ins: quinoa or brown rice, chicken

Put the cashews in a glass bowl or measuring cup and cover with filtered water.  Add 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt and soak for a half hour or up to six hours.  Drain the cashews and put in a blender with fresh water to cover.  Purée the cashews until they are the texture of a thick cream, adding more water as needed.

While the cashews are soaking, preheat the oven to 400° and toss the carrot and onion pieces with the olive oil in a large roasting pan.  Roast the veggies for 35 – 40 minutes.  Place the roasted veggies and stock or veggie broth in a soup pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the veggies to soften completely.

Use an immersion blender or fill your regular blender half full to purée the soup.  Be sure to vent the lid of your blender, otherwise the steam may build up and cause an explosion of hot soup.  I like to add the cashew cream in the blender, which helps cool things down and prevent dangerous accidents.  Once all is blended, return the soup to your pan and add the optional stir ins, such as quinoa or chicken.  Add salt to taste and heat through before serving.

Veggie Mulligatawny

1 carrot, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 green apple, chopped

2 Tablespoons olive oil or ½ cup broth

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans or 1 can

1 – 2 Tablespoons curry powder

1 quart broth or stock (see recipe links below)

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

grated rind of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 can coconut milk

salt to taste

Optional stir-ins: basmati rice, chicken, lamb, cooked potatoes, parsley, cilantro

Sauté the carrot, apple and celery in the olive oil or broth until the onion is starting to become translucent.  Stir in the apple, chickpeas and curry powder.  Put the lid on the pan and steam gently for five minutes.  Add the broth, ginger, lemon and thyme.  Bring to a boil and then simmer over low heat until the vegetables are very tender.  Cool slightly.  Use a blender to purée the soup in batches with the coconut milk.  Be careful not to fill your blender too full.  Follow the directions for hot liquids.  Return the creamy soup to the pot.  Stir in salt and your favorite add-ins, and heat through.  Do not boil the finished soup.

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Creamy Potato Soup

1 medium onion, chopped

2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil

6 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into half inch chunks

1 quart veggie broth or stock

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the onion in the butter or oil until translucent.  Add the potato chunks, herbs and enough stock or broth to cover the potatoes.  You may add water, if needed.  Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are softened, about 20 minutes.  Remove one cup of potato chunks, and discard the bay leaf.  Purée the remaining soup with an immersion blender.  Add the potatoes back in and season to taste.  Optional: Serve with a sprinkle of jack cheese.

For a variation on the creamy potato soup, add cut up broccoli or asparagus stems with the potatoes and cook through.  Stir in the broccoli florets or asparagus tips after soup is pureed.  Cook until the broccoli or asparagus is tender-crisp.

Upcoming Wellness Wednesday Classes at Basics Cooperative

  • Celebrate Salad, 6 – 7 pm, May 20th

We’ll explore fresh, local greens to improve your summer salads.

  • Think Outside the Box with Local Mac & Cheese, 6 – 7 pm, June 17th

June is dairy month, and we think you’ll be inspired to get creative with local cheese in a favorite comfort food.  Dairy and gluten free recipes will be included.

  • Preserving the Harvest with Fermentation, 6 – 7 pm, July 15th

Learn to make your own live, fermented vegetables.  We’ll cover sauerkraut and its variations, along with some fermented veggies that may be new to you.

Helpful Links

Vegetable Broth Recipe

One Hour Vegetable Stock

Bone Broth Information and Recipes

On Farm Food Safety

Christy Marsden, horticulture educator for UW Extension of Rock County gave this Food Safety presentation at the 2015 Annual Vendor Meeting on February 7th, 2015.

So you’ve discovered farm fresh eggs!  You love the flavor, the freshness, the golden yolks and the way they fry up in a pan.   You feel good about supporting local farms and humane raising of animals.  Perhaps you understand the important role that poultry can play in pest control, weed control and soil health on a diversified farm.  Maybe you appreciate the variety of colors and feel good for supporting species diversity.  Still, your attempts at hard boiled eggs have been coming up short.  You know what I’m talking about.  You follow the directions but can’t get that shell off without taking half the whites with it.  Here are some tips to help you hard cook (and peel) those farm-fresh eggs.

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First of all, your eggs may be just too fresh.  Yes, I did just say that.  Farmers’ markets eliminate the middle steps in getting eggs to customers. Store eggs are washed, packed, cooled, shipped and stored in a temporary warehouse before being shipped again to sit on the grocer’s shelf. Farmers market eggs are washed, packed and cooled.  Then they get sold right to consumers, sometimes within just a few days.  To understand why fresh eggs don’t work well for boiling in the shell, it’s important to look at the properties of the egg shell.

When eggs come out of a hen, they are covered by a protective coating.  Because eggs must be washed before sale in this country, the coating has been removed before you buy the egg.  Once the coating is removed, the permeable egg shell allows air to pass more freely in and out of the egg.  As the egg sits in your refrigerator, some of the carbon dioxide in the egg goes out as oxygen rich air goes in.  This exchange of gases raises the pH of the egg white, which causes the membrane around it to stick less. (reference)  In addition, the egg white shrinks over time, causing the air bubble found at the round bottom of the egg to get larger.  Both of these properties make older eggs easier to peel.  The trade off is that the older whites do not support the yolk as well, so the yolk becomes off-center.

Hard-Cooked Eggs How to:

1. Start with the oldest eggs in your fridge (eggs will keep for 5 weeks past the purchase date).  If you wish the yolks to be centered, store the carton on its side in the fridge for about a day.

2. Put the eggs in a single layer in a pan that is large enough to not crowd them too much.

3. Cover the eggs with cool water by about an inch.

4. Turn on the burner and bring the water to a complete boil.  You want it to bubble all over but not be boiling so hard that the eggs roll around.  Boiling too hard will cause the whites to become tough and the yolk to get that green sulfury layer.

5. Remove the pan from the heat while putting a tight fitting lid on it.

6. Allow the eggs to sit covered for 15 – 20 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs.  20 minutes is for jumbo eggs, 15 is for medium.

7. Pour out the hot water and run cold water into the pan.

8. Allow the eggs to sit in the pan of cold water, preferably with the sink running a thin trickle of cold water into the pan, for at least 10 minutes.

9. Refrigerate the eggs or peel and eat.  Unpeeled eggs will keep for a week in the refrigerator.

Peeling Tips:

The eggs peel best in water.  Perhaps you’ve heard the tip of shaking the eggs in the pan of cold water or seen the glass of water video below.  Both tricks do actually work.  Also, start peeling from the large end, where the air bubble is and try to get that inner membrane off with the shell.  You may also place the cooked eggs in the freezer for 3-5 minutes.  The cold will help shrink the whites away from the shell.  Just don’t forget about the eggs in your freezer.

Please share your own tips and tricks in the comments!  Happy cooking!

 

Resources:

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Eggs/BoiledEggs.htm

http://www.edinformatics.com/math_science/science_of_cooking/boiled_eggs.htm

http://www.forbes.com/sites/nadiaarumugam/2012/10/25/why-american-eggs-would-be-illegal-in-a-british-supermarket-and-vice-versa/2/

 

 

Do you want to be a JFM vendor?  – Here are some tips.

Maybe you are a farmer or producer who is considering selling at a farmers market, but you don’t know where to start.  Here are some tips and ideas to get you started.

The Janesville Farmers Market is a fun Saturday morning event with a close-knit community of vendors.  Vendors come to the market for many reasons.  Selling products directly to consumers is just one of the reasons.  Many vendors want to form relationships with local customers and sell their products at a fair price.  Some vendors also come to the market as a social occasion.  They enjoy talking to their fellow vendors and meeting both new and regular customers.

Do you make or grow something that is needed at the farmers’ market?  Do you enjoy interacting with people and offering good customer service? Then selling at the Janesville Farmers Market might be a good fit.  Our market brings in 2,000-3,000 customers on a typical Saturday morning. Most of the customers are seeking local farm products.  Some may wish to purchase gifts and artisan products.  A few regulars make a weekly social trip to the market to meet friends and family. Entertainment and special events round out the market experience for customers young and old.  Our market offers something for everyone.

First Steps

First, you will want to make sure that you have the necessary licenses, insurance and other paperwork to sell your product at a farmers’ market.  JFM has a Regulatory Checklist to help you determine what is needed.  You will also want to check out our Policies, Procedures and Rules.  Next, please read and complete the appropriate vendor application for your products or use the online application.  If you have any questions, contact the market manager by phone or email. (608) 289-9292, manager@janesvillefarmersmarket.com

If you are unsure about whether there may be a need for your particular product, you may also call or email the market manager.  For the 2015 season, JFM is focusing on recruitment of farm vendors and prepared foods.  We are especially in need of ready-to-eat foods, eggs, meat, early and late-season produce, unique farm products, nuts, grains, dried beans, maple syrup, wool/fiber and fruit (pears, apricots, peaches, blueberries, cranberries, grapes, currants).

Janesville Farmers Market offers Seasonal, Partial Season and Daily vendor options.  The Daily option is a great way to try the market out for the first time and decide if it is a good fit for your products and personality.  If you know that you will vend at least eight times in the season, you will want to invest in a Seasonal stall in order to keep the same location throughout the season.  Daily vendors may be moved around from week to week.

Tents

Janesville Farmers Market stalls are 10 x 10, which is a common size for shade tents.  Vendors must provide their own tents and tent weights.  Because our West Wall Street location is very sunny, very few vendors choose to spend the day outside without some kind of shade protection.  Whether you choose to use a tent or a large umbrella, weights are required.  JFM will not be responsible for damages caused by improperly weighted tents.  We recommend at least 25 pounds on each leg of the tent, attached securely by rope, tape or bungee cord.  Some ideas for tent weights include: dumbbells. concrete blocks and plastic jugs filled with sand or water.

Display

Misty Meadows Display and Signs

Misty Meadows makes room for a large volume of produce by using slanted crates that display well-labeled varieties of onions and peppers with signage that invites customers to try new things.

Your display should look welcoming and abundant.  If you don’t have enough produce to fill a bin, use paper or cardboard to prop up your veggies or use a shallow basket and perhaps angle it.  Table coverings can be used make your display look nicer and set your booth apart from other vendors.  Use vertical space, colors and signs to catch the customers’ attention.

If a ten foot wide display sounds small to you, consider using a U-shaped design that allows customers to walk into your space to view your products.  You can also find creative ways to utilize your vertical space.  If absolutely necessary, vendors may request and pay for a second stall. One experienced vendor likes to purchase two spaces and put her 10 x 10 tent in the center of the spaces in order to provide room for multiple products and allow customers to walk around the outside of her display.

Bonnies Birdseed Wreaths

Bonnie’s Birdseed Wreaths does a nice job of using vertical space, bright colors and signage at the market.

Signs

Customers appreciate signs that are clear and accurate.  Please mark the prices clearly on or near your items.  Use signage to build a relationship with customers and inform them about your farm or business.  Make sure statements are honest and accurate.  For example, do not use the word “organic” unless you are certified.  Instead, you may say “Grown without Pesticides” or “Chemical-free” to let customers know that you didn’t add artificial inputs.  Consider using a sign with your logo and business name to make it easier for customers to identify you in a crowded market.

Smiling Vendors good signage

Heaven Sent Farm uses informative signage and angled produce boxes to invite customers to buy their locally grown produce.

Additional Resources

Although our farmers’ market is a very friendly environment, there can be competition for sales of many products.  If you want additional help with marketing in order to stand out and attract new customers, check out some of these helpful resources:

New Farmers Guide: http://www.davisfarmersmarket.org/new-farmers-guide/New%20Farmers%20Guide-v9.pdf

The Art and Science of Farmers’ Market Display: http://www.extension.org/pages/10986/the-art-and-science-of-farmers-market-display#.VQXkttLF-n8

The Best Farmers’ Market Display Tip: http://gredio.com/blog/the-best-farmers-market-display-tip/#.VQXmZ9LF-n8

How to Stand out at the Farmers’ Market: http://www.signs.com/blog/how-to-stand-out-at-the-farmers-market/

22 Lessons on Running a Successful Farmers Market Stand by Nina Planck: http://newfarm.rodaleinstitute.org/features/0504/farmmarkets/index_print.shtml

Your Edge in a Changing Marketplace (webinar): http://farmersmarketcoalition.org/resource/your-edge-in-a-changing-marketplace-thinking-like-a-retailer/

8 Tips for Beginning Farmers’ Market Vendors: http://www.hobbyfarms.com/farm-marketing-and-management/8-tips-for-beginner-farmers-market-vendors.aspx

How to Become a Farmers’ Market Vendor (illustrated guide): http://www.wikihow.com/Become-a-Farmers-Market-Vendor

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