TO MARKET, TO MARKET

Ag producers sell their wares at Shawano Farmers Market
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Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Yvonne Van Lanen, left, displays samples at her Y Salsa booth as Sharon Doro looks them over Saturday at the opening day of the Shawano Farmers Market. The market continues weekly through Oct. 8.

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Customers walk along the market route Saturday in search of fresh produce and other items grown by local farmers.

The Shawano Farmers Market was back in business Saturday as almost 30 vendors and hundreds of potential customers took over the front of Franklin Park.

The weather was sunny and warm, which was just fine with Nathan Falk, the market’s coordinator.

“No rain. We like that,” Falk said. “We’re going to be averaging around 30 vendors. Some of the vendors don’t have their vegetables in just yet. We’ve grown in the last couple of years.”

While some of the vendors are brand new, others are veterans of the market. Lesley Nemetz, who was offering maple syrup to customers, is in her second year of selling goods at the market, but she is keeping her appeal fresh by offering a new product — maple-flavored root beer.

She said working at the farmers market has been fun.

“It’s been a good learning experience,” she said.

Nemetz has been harvesting maple syrup in Belle Plaine for five years. She said this year was a good one, harvesting 90 gallons.

Nemetz’s syrup is 100 percent maple. She said adding other flavors diminishes the quality of the maple.

“It can be used as a substitute for other sugars. From a health benefit, that’s important,” Nemetz said. “You can substitute it for sugar in some recipes; my mom makes some amazing maple frosting.”

Becky Wyne, of Bowler, is a new vendor to the market but previously patronized it because of the fresh produce available.

Wyne makes a variety of soaps and sells them on Facebook and through other venues. She took up the craft .

“I watched my mom make them. She made soap and candles,” Wyne said. “It’s a fun hobby. My 3-year-old boy even helps me. It gets him into it, and he likes the soaps.”

Even in the first hour Saturday, Wyne had a lot of traffic. She said people saw her post on social media that she would be at the market and came early to buy.

Wyne knew her soaps would be a hit because they’re all natural.

“People come to farmers markets because they like homegrown, not mass produced,” Wyne said.

Bruce Beuttel and Jennifer Morris agree with that. They’ve been coming to the market for four years, usually making trips every other weekend to support local farmers.

“We come at least six times during the summer,” Beuttel said.

Morris said she and Beuttel used to have a huge garden at their home in Gresham while their children were growing up, but when they all left home, they decided a garden was not necessary, since there were plenty of produce options at farmers markets like Shawano’s.

“We can just come and buy what we want for the two of us,” Morris said, noting they purchase honey and maple syrup in addition to the produce.

The couple bring their own bags for what they purchase. Morris commented that she was pleased Saturday to find a vendor who makes reusable plastic sealing bags.

“We like that stuff isn’t prepackaged, so we can avoid all the extra packaging,” she said.

Kathy Paddock, of Shawano, has been an eager fan of the market for years, going back to when the market was located in the parking lot of Shawano City Hall. The market made the move to Franklin Park in 2014.

“I don’t come every week,” Paddock said. “We’re fair-weather fans. We just come and make our purchases and head back home.”

Ken and Marilyn Kroenke just moved back to Shawano from Illinois, and on the advice of Richard Sarnwick — one of the market’s founders — they decided to give the market a try.

They were also amazed that there was more than just produce and plants at the market.

“I’m always looking at flowers and vegetables,” Marilyn Kroenke said. “But I saw that there are other interesting vendors here like soaps and jewelry and all that business.”

The Kroenkes were surprised by the size of the market.

“I was thinking there’d be 10, 15 stands,” Ken Kroenke said. “I can see that there’s more than that. We look forward to exploring today.”

The Shawano Farmers Market runs every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon until Oct. 8.