Since 1870 the farmers market has taken place at the square in downtown Stevens Point.
The Stevens Point farmers market is unique because it is a producer-only market where vendors are only allowed to sell what they have grown on their farm. The accepted vendors are those who live within a thirty mile radius from the city.
David Peterson, a vendor at the farmers market since 1976, keeps coming back due to the support he receives for his farm and the community.
“The best part is that you get connected with the people that are growing your food. It also keeps the money in the area,” Peterson said.
Kelly Adlington, senior waste management major with minors in soil science and international resource management, said, “You are choosing how to spend your money, who you are giving your money to, what kind of practices you support. You are determining the demand as a consumer. That could change things on a large scale.”
Additionally, vendors must complete an extensive application and verification process. Market managers conduct random inspections if they suspect dishonesty from vendors.
“It’s a much more natural way of doing things,” Peterson said.
A manager’s role is making sure that “everyone is safe and getting accurate information here in Central Wisconsin,” said Krista Engelhardt, program coordinator at Central Rivers Farmshed.
Farmshed heavily promotes the farmers market and accepts Electronic Benefit Transfer, or Food Share, formally known as Food Stamp. In exchange for Food Stamps, Farmshed will distribute $1 wooden coins that most vendors accept at the market. Additionally, Farmshed offers a winter market in Stevens Point Nov. 17 until Mar. 23.
Engelhardt said, “We want to make sure all community members have access to healthy food.”
Joel Kuehnhold, a vendor from Lonely Oak Farms, said the greatest benefit of the farmers market is “access to nutrient dense food, knowing where food comes from, purchasing from local farmers and supporting the local economy.”
Lonely Oak Farm practices producing organic food and does not enter the mainstream market. They also offer opportunities for students to get involved at their farm.
Students and community members can also participate in live chef demos. Chef Thad from Michele’s restaurant and bakery will be conducting a live cooking demonstration on Oct. 1. Samples and recipe cards will be distributed so that participants can purchase the ingredients at the market and cook the meal at home.
“It’s a neat atmosphere, especially on Saturdays,” Englehardt said. The market is open every day, but according to Englehardt, the best time to attend is Saturday 8 a.m. to noon.
Her tips include bringing cash in small bills, reusable grocery bags and an ice pack or cooler for meat and dairy.
“There has been a report released by the USDA saying that American fruit and vegetable consumption is way below the recommended values,” Engelhardt said.
Engelhardt suggested students make smoothies with fresh fruit in the morning and drink them on the way to class.
Aside from fresh fruits and vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, salad greens, cucumbers and onion, stands are always full of local meats, eggs, dairy products, honey, salsa, maple syrup and jam.
Saturdays typically consist of forty farm vendors plus fresh coffee, bakery and hot food vendors.