Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spring Green Market Days

Last week we had our first of a month of Spring Green Market Days (Sundays in May, 2-6pm, rain or shine). Our May 4th newsletter featured photos and information about the vendors who set up shop on the sidewalk outside our store.

Spring Green Market #2 was held on Mother's Day with some familiar faces and some new. These brave souls weathered the chill that accompanied the lack of sunlight, smiling and chatting up all the passersby.

Glass Goddess Designer Jewelry was in attendance for a second week with her beautiful pendants, as was Auntie G.G.'s Farm Market Perennials (though she sells maple syrup and handcrafted soaps, too). Auntie G.G. brought a new item this week: candy apples from the award winning Amy's Gourmet Apples in Cedarburg, including a strawberry cheesecake apple! Daniel was very excited about buying an apple, but disappointed when he realized the store didn't have a knife big enough or sharp enough to cut it into immediately consumable pieces.

Newcomers this week offered handmade items edible (cheeses, mushrooms, pickled asparagus, relishes, pasta sauces) and not (purses and cloth birds), though I guess you could eat the purses if you really wanted to, I just don't think it would digest too well.

Sally Shearer of Sally's Purses had a full rack with varying sizes, from a small purse to large over-the-shoulder tote or market bag (perfect for mushrooms and a candy apple!). Handmade entirely from recycled fabrics (old windbreakers, vinyl tablecloths), re-purposed materials (belts, seed bags) and found objects (buttons, trinkets). What started out as a personal project because she was tired of paying out the nose for a new purse, Sally realized she had found a home for her love of unusual fabrics and found material. A Bay View resident and member of the Bay View Arts Guild, you can find her at the South Shore Water Frolics in July, as well as other area craft shows.

A familiar face from our holiday Farmer's & Artisan's Markets was Decatur Dairy, a co-op located in Brodhead, WI. Headed up by Master Cheesemaker Steve Stettler and with 100% of their milk products coming from a family farm, Decatur Dairy features 24 varieties of cheese, all handmade. Their Havarti is a U.S. championship cheese, having swept the top awards for several years running; and their Muenster is a First Place world championship cheese! I found that out after sharing my love of their Muenster Pepper and secondary love of the Herb Havarti, so I swear I'm not making this up. Decatur has a physical storefront as well as an online store - they will ship!

The celebrity of today's market, however, was Eric Rose of River Valley Ranch & Kitchens, who just happened to have been featured in today's Sunday Journal Sentinel - "The Fungus Among Us." 33 years ago Eric began helping out his father, a former restaurant owner sick of not being able to find a good mushroom provider who started growing his own, in exchange for a place to grow some bean sprouts. This "labor of love" blossomed into a whole new life, with River Valley growing from just one employee to 30, being featured on the Food Network's show Food Finds for their Portabella Salsa, and on its way to becoming a certified organic food producer. With five varieties of mushrooms, as well as asparagus, onions and other vegetables, Eric Rose and River Valley Kitchens create their own assortment of fresh salsas, dips, pasta sauces, bruschettas and even a Portabella-Wasabi Steak Sauce and Marinade. I recommend the Artichoke Dip which mixes with cream cheese for a delightful, fresh, and happy-mouth experience. You can find River Valley's products at area markets throughout the season, as well as their online store. For those of you thinking about following in his footsteps, Eric says "It's not as easy as it looks." And 33 years later, he still isn't growing bean sprouts.

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