By Brandi Makuski
When the downtown farmers’ market closes each October, it leaves behind the opportunity for local farmers and their patrons to connect in person.
The Stevens Point Area Winter Farmers’ Market fills the gap when winter weather prevents the open-air event in the Downtown Square. Now in its third year of operation, the winter market is held inside Redeemer Lutheran Church, 900 Brilowski Rd., just behind Fleet Farm on the city’s east side.
Like its summertime counterpart, the market offers a wide variety of meats, canned vegetables, fruits, and jellies, hand-kneaded bread, ciders, honey, syrups, dried seasonings, pasta, baked desserts, and soaps—all prepared from scratch by local vendors using locally-sourced ingredients.
Some of the market’s 24 vendors also sell handmade dishes and butcher-block cutting boards, but everything sold at the market must be related to food or its preparation, or to body care, according to Sarah River, who helps organize operations of the winter market.
River, along with her husband Robin, owns Primitive Pastures in Iola. The family offers Heritage breed beef, pork, and chicken raised on a pasture using rotational grazing methods. They also sell free-range eggs, vegetables, and herbs.
“There’s quite a bit of overlap; I’d say 10 of us are both summer and winter market vendors,” River said.
River said the group had trouble finding someone to prepare breakfast for its patrons, so they decided to ping one of their own, her husband Robin, to do the cooking. His hearty meals, sold under the name Primitive Providers—also available at the Stevens Point Co-op—are available for sale just inside the doors of the church.
“It’s taken off; it’s become very popular,” she said of her husband’s meals. “Our whole focal point is, all the food we use for the breakfast is taken from right here at the market.”
Robin River offered a Harvest Burrito on Oct. 3: a mixture of peppers, sausage, eggs, pumpkin, cheese, and salsa on a handmade flour tortilla. Next week, he plans to make biscuits and gravy.
“We make good use of whatever the vendors bring in,” he said.
“This is the first year we transitioned from Farmshed running the market to a cooperative vendor-managed market,” Sheffy said. “It hasn’t changed very much, so people shouldn’t really expect any surprises.”
Sheffy’s farm raises pasture-fed animals, various gardens, bees, and roasts coffee beans picked by his family and volunteer helpers who travel to Mexico and Kenya.
Sheffy owns the farm with his wife Holly, and the two are preparing for another trip to Mexico in December.
“We sell the ground coffee, and we also sell the coffee beans themselves under the name ‘Liberation Coffee’,” he said.
Owners of Wooly Thyme Micro Farm in Hull offered an array of canned items on Saturday, including jellies and garlic, as well as homebaked items.
Co-owner Alicia Razvi said her family has operated the CSA—Community-Supported Agriculture—farm for the past three years. The farm was named for a native plant on their Emerald Ln. property.
Razvi said the farm sells a weekly package of homegrown goods to CSA patrons, who sign up beginning each March.
“They pay for a whole season of food, and every week from June to October they get a bag of six-to-eight vegetables, a baked good, and a canned item,” she said.
Razvi was accompanied on Saturday by her 13-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, who attends school at Point of Discovery in Stevens Point.
Aaliyah Razvi baked cupcakes and macaroons for the Oct. 3 market, Alicia Razvi said, calling it “a great way to spend a day.”
Sarah River said the market will at the church every Saturday through March 30, with the notable exception of Feb. 9, when the group will be participating in the Local Food Fair at SentryWorld.
The group is also seeking holiday vendors, she said. From Nov. 24 through December, River said the group will temporarily expand to include a “craft makers market”. Anyone interested can contact the group via Facebook, or by email at email@example.com.
“We’ll be a little bigger and better during those holiday times,” she said. “That’s when we have a lot more people coming in.”
The Stevens Point Area Winter Farmers’ Market operates 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday through March 30. The market is open to the public.