Market blossoms

<body.content> <p>Fresh produce, along with items from the other basic food groups, were plentiful Saturday for the opening day of the Shawano Farmers Market, but it did not take long for vendors to sell out of some items.</p> <p>Within an hour of the market’s start, one vendor was already out of snow peas, while another was out of bratwursts. Despite the shortages, there were still plenty of goods to be had, including cheese, bread, radishes and even yak meat.</p> <p>The farmers market, now in its fourth year, is in good shape financially, according to Richard Sarnwick, president for the organization. Efforts to garner corporate sponsorship reaped enough support to fund the 2011 season. In the past, organizers hoped to raise the money during the season.</p> <p>“Our budget is $8,500, and we’re there” Sarnwick said. “The last few years were a real struggle.”</p> <p>A new feature for the market is a focus on vendors who sell food grown and raised locally. It is a volunteer program, but participants are able to show a placard at their booth saying they are local folks.</p> <p>To be a certified local vendor, participants have to prove their wares came from within 100 miles of Shawano, and that is done by volunteers inspecting their production. Sarnwick explained this was established to try and curb vendors from purchasing produce and other items from chain stores and then reselling the goods at the farmers market.</p> <p>“That’s a big issue, not only for this market, but statewide and nationwide,” he said. “We’ve taken a really proactive stance with inspection.”</p> <p>Josh Laatsch owns and operates Narrow Path Gardens, located in Caroline, with his wife, Nicole, and they are part of the certified local vendor program this year. The Laatsches are in their second year with the farmers market and were surprised by how much they were able to sell their first year.</p> <p>“This year, our garden is twice as big,” Laatsch said. “Pretty much every time we sold out. We didn’t have huge quantities last year.”</p> <p>Laatsch still does not have as much produce ready as he would like, due to an unusually wet spring, but he expects to be at peak capacity in two to three weeks.</p> <p>The first day of the market saw 20 vendors on hand, but Sarnwick is expecting each weekend through the beginning of October will average 30 vendors. It is a far cry from the first year, when the market started out with three vendors, he said.</p> <p>The yak meat was found at the Yak’s and Thing’s booth, operated by Kyle and Wendy Jorgensen. The Jorgensens have 35 acres near Clintonville and started out raising yak for themselves, but they decided to branch out and share with their neighbors.</p> <p>“We wanted something healthy and thought that other people would want it, too,” Wendy Jorgensen said.</p> <p>Many patrons of the market do not miss a weekend. Holly Zander of Shawano is a regular, and her canvas bag was filled Saturday with strawberries, radishes, lettuce, yak soap, spinach and onions.</p> <p>“It’s just such a treat to be here, and I’m glad Shawano is making this grow,” Zander said. “I really like the produce. It’s fun to buy it right from the farmer.”</p> <p>In addition to the fresh food, there is an information booth manned by local Master Gardeners who can provide tips for people working on their own gardens, as well as a designated nonprofit booth that sells cookies, donuts and coffee. Each week, musical entertainment helps to liven the market. Slots for musical groups and non-profits are already booked through the summer.</p> <p>“The biggest part of the market is that it is kind of a gathering place for the community, socially,” Sarnwick said.</p> <p></p> </body.content>

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By Lee Pulaski<br \> <a href="mailto:lpulaski@shawanoleader.com">lpulaski@shawanoleader.com</a><br \>
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Farmers market starts year with full funding
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