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New location provides fertile foundation for local market

By Lauran Redemann
posted April 18, 2011

As warm, sunny weather continues to tease community members with hopes of summer, the season also brings anticipations regarding an Oshkosh tradition, the Saturday Farmer’s Market. Beginning on June 4, the market will grace the community with twice the amount of fresh, plentiful fruits, vegetables, and more. From 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., rain or shine, the 400-500 blocks of North Main Street will be filled with vendors selling products from the surrounding local area. The market hopes to draw many more people to revitalize the newly renovated Main Street.

“We think it is important that the public realize how important the market is to Oshkosh. It brings thousands of people downtown every Saturday, and is also the only privately operated market in our state,” said Farmers Market Main Street Liaison and co-owner of Becket’s restaurant Kris Larson. “A lot of credit [of this work] is due to the Leathermans for all their time and dedication to locally grown food, farming, and commerce.”

The Farmer’s Market is run by a volunteer committee, managed by Dennis and Karlene Leatherman. Volunteers 15 years and older are welcomed to help any given Saturday. Volunteers will monitor market traffic during the set-up and take down of the day, and also offer general help to the visitors. These volunteers play a key role in regulating the event to be certain everything runs smoothly.

“On Saturdays, we practice management by walking around. We help set up the market’s booths, barricades, scales signs, banners, bulletin boards, and recipe handouts before the vendors arrive to setup.,” said co-manager of the Oshkosh Saturday Farmers Market Dennis Leatherman. During the hours the Market is open, we check on all of the vendors to ensure they are in the right spot, are selling approved items, and are following health and safety guidelines.”

With the new location, there have been an increased number of vendors eager to participate and sell their products.

“Moving to Main Street has caused many benefits, including a larger market, over 100 vendors per week, the addition of public interest booths for non-profits organizations, and finally the implementation of a program to electronically accept food stamps,” said Larson.

To enjoy the new upgraded market, vendors must send in their mailing address and phone number to receive an application packet. After applying, they then are reviewed and approved. Making it relatively simple to become a vendor, Saturdays will now be even more chocked full of people, vendors, and entertainment. This new and improved venue provides people and small businesses to sell directly to the public community.

“The Oshkosh Farmer’s Market has increased from 50 vendors to 90 or more vendors, with many new added attractions,” said Leatherman.

Depending on the growing seasons, different foods should specifically be purchased at that time. Although the accurate crop availability and harvest time differ from year to year, the Farmer’s market has brochures available indicating tips for finding products at their finest. These seasonal ingredients are also purchased by restaurants of the town, including Becket’s.

“We use food purchased at the market at Becket’s,” said Larson. “Chef and owner Mike Buckarma regularly runs specials based around what he buys at the market, and even does cooking demos [at the event].”

Chefs, including Buckarma, from area restaurants will be doing cooking demonstrations on the Main stage between 9:00 a.m. until noon. The support from culinary professionals is a stand-out feature of the Farmer’s Market that solidifies its value to the Oshkosh community.

The Farmer’s market also owes its success to the dedication and support of the Downtown Oshkosh Businesses Improvement District, UW-Oshkosh Credit Union, Beckets, Rotary Club of Oshkosh, ACS, Castle Pierce, and Crescent Moon Antiques and Salvage.

“We believe that locally grown food is important to all, and we feel that the Oshkosh market is very valuable to commerce and exciting to our newly renovated Main Street,” said Larson.

With variety of opportunity the Oshkosh Farmers Market provides, the support of the community will ultimately strengthen the community by exposing the farmers and crafters to the public.

“It is important for Oshkosh to have a farmer’s market to allow people access to locally grown produce. It is also important to a lively and thriving downtown,” said Larson.

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