On the Beet – Our Reporter Checks in Again From the Madison Market
With as much as I enjoy perusing the Dane County Farmers Market, it’s surprising that I’m not more than just a little sad when autumn rolls around and the end of the outdoor Market nears. But really, I’m not. Maybe the crisp, clear mornings up in Wisconsin are so invigorating that it’s impossible to be sad. I do know that I’m happy to no longer feel pressured to get to the market before the heat of the morning arrives and wilts the veggies in my bag.
Just a short time ago, the entire Market smelled of melons, especially musk melon. Now, it smells of apples, as bins everywhere are overflowing with the fruit. Instead of walking around the market with iced coffee, I now drink fresh apple cider. Not to be outdone by the perfume of Honey Crisps, fresh flowers are still plentiful, either as composed bouquets or as a banquet of pick-your-own.
Autumn is a time of transition; tomatoes and basil are clearly on their way out and being replaced by winter squash and the re-appearance of spinach. Peppers and tomatillos are still available, along with greater supplies of broccoli, turnips, storage onions, and cabbage. Most farmers still have a wide array of produce, but the cool weather crops are in the best shape, and at the best price – especially potatoes. A few farmers had loads of sweet potatoes available.
One can almost keep track of the seasons at the Market by noting what mushroom is currently on display. Late September brings the Hen of the Woods mushroom. I also saw a lot of shiitake mushrooms for sale.
As the weather cools, one of the busiest corners of the market gets even busier. When you can actually see the steam rising off the loaves of hot & spicy cheese bread, well, the loaves pretty much sell themselves. But, there are plenty of other baked goods available throughout the market, ranging from donuts and cinnamon rolls to savory meat pasties.
Of course, fall brings football fever back to Madison. As the Market is just down the road from the University of Madison, plenty of students, fans and alumni stop for a bit of shopping before Saturday games, and the pumpkin displays are ready to greet them.
The outdoor Market runs on Saturdays from from 6:00 a.m to 2:00 p.m. through November 6th at the Capitol Square in downtown Madison.