Preparations in place for Saturday's summer opener at Downtown F - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Preparations in place for Saturday's summer opener at Downtown Farmers Market


Durand (WQOW) - With the swing in temperature lately, spring just doesn't feel like it's here to stay, but colder than normal weather has not frozen an annual tradition in Eau Claire. We take a look at how area growers are prepping for the outdoor debut of the Downtown Farmer's Market.

Chris Kees Winkler, a farmer at Wheatfield Hill Organics in Durand, said, "People are anxious, they're really anxious you know because it's almost May 1, and we want some green, we want to experience that market."

Getting ready for Saturday’s summer opener at Eau Claire's Downtown Farmer's Market is a year-round job for one area farmer.

Kees Winkler said, "It's a lot of work. It's always a, 'All hands on deck', type of morning when it's a market Saturday."

Countless hours of preparing and packaging are all done with hope for a good selling season.

Kees Winkler said, "We'll be busy in the kitchen here this week, preparing organic toffee and turtles, both our blueberry and raspberry toppings, and we also had three heads of organic beef processed. We're almost set for opening day at market."

Work that can be done indoors is well underway. But, a frigid spring has stalled the planting season.

"This is not our typical way to hold the tomatoes over but with the cool low temps at night, we've resorted to plan b, and we're holding them over here for about a week,” Kees Winkler said.

Deidra Barrickman, the market manager of Downtown Farmers Market, said, "This year for my Shitake mushrooms, it's still a little cold out to be planting or inoculating the logs. So, it is a bit of a delay, in the 16 to 17 years that I've been doing it, it's probably my second latest year to be inoculating logs."

Meaning, cold weather could freeze sales for some vendors the first few Saturdays in May.

Kees Winkler said, "There's always a risk in farming. It's very weather dependent. but we'll be hopeful."

"When you're a farmer of any type, you depend on the weather a lot so you just roll with the punches and hope next year's a little better,” Barrickman said.

The Downtown Farmers Market in Eau Claire kicks off its outdoor summer season this coming Saturday at 7-30 in the morning. More than a dozen area vendors will be present, selling a variety of items like, cheese, meat and jam. As the weather warms up, fresh produce will follow.

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