Commuters along Highway 12 may have visited Bluffview for its conveniently located gas station between Sauk City and Baraboo, but anyone stopping to gas up on Monday nights would see something unexpected: A farmers’ market.
The area has been holding Monday night markets from 4-7 P.M. since mid August. The event is held on the property of the Center of Hope Church with the church’s permission.
“I started my farm and I knew I wanted to sell produce and was just looking for places to do that,” said Deb Moses, who got the Bluffview Farmers’ Market started. “There were numerous markets around and I started selling at Lodi market but also noticed there wasn’t any market in this area.”
Moses reached out to other vendors at the Lodi Farmers’ Market, where she’d been selling on Fridays. She lives near the town of Leland.
“This community is here, there’s about 600 people here,” Moses said. “My son’s schoolmates live here and that’s kind of how I first realized it was here... There’s a gas station but there isn’t a lot of other options for buying fresh food.”
Moses grows carrots, beets, a variety of peppers, herbs, tomatoes, flowers, cucumbers, onions and more. “I’ve been trying just about everything this year and seeing what does well,” Moses said.
One of the vendors who followed her from the Lodi market is Duane “Zeke” Weiterman of Weiterman Farm in Lodi, who started doing farmers markets earlier this year but has been growing vegetables all his life.
Weiterman has a variety of produce, but one thing in particular is special: heirloom tomatoes.
“He’s got heirloom tomatoes, and at the Lodi market a lot of people seek him out,” said Gail Lamberty. Lamberty estimated about 15 vendors offer tomatoes at the Lodi Market, but Zeke’s are the most clamored after.
“They’re the best tomato you’ve ever had flavor-wise,” Weiterman said. “But as far as storage or shipability, they don’t fit… you’ll never see them in a grocery store.”
Moses found recruited another vendor after happening upon their stand and leaving a note with information about the Bluffview Farmers’ Market.
“We were growing a garden (and) eventually we just wanted to feed ourselves,” said Jacque Eckles. “We had an oversupply (so) we built our little farm stand called the Veggie Emporium.”
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Eckles and her fiance, Dan Enge, update customers on their Denzer based stand via Instagram.
“Next year, we’re trying to get a greenhouse and expand the farm,” Eckles said.
“It will be a lot more plants,” Enge said.
Eckles’ and Enge’s most popular product is cucamelons, which are like small cucumbers. One customer loved them so much he bought every one they had.
Lamberty said the Monday night time for the Bluffview Farmers’ Market helps it fill a niche.
“I think this is the only Monday market,” said Gail Lamberty. “This is a new starting market. You’ve got vendors here on both ends of the spectrum.”
One of those new vendors is Amelia Torrijos, who began selling Mexican food at the market Sep. 2. She sells quesadillas, camarones, fish, tostadas, mushrooms, corn and more.
Torrijos’ specialty is a corn and mushroom quesadilla. “That’s very rare, there’s just a few people who have eaten that,” said Yesenia Hernandez, who helps at Torrijos’ stall. “It’s really good.”
For anyone looking to give farmers’ markets a try, Eckles said the best strategy is to just go for it.
“Get out of your comfort zone and just do it,” Eckles said. “Otherwise you’re going to miss the opportunity, if you don’t jump on it.”
The Bluffview Farmers’ Market will continue through September. Next year, Moses anticipates more vendors and customers, as word spreads.
Moses encouraged anyone interested to visit the Bluffview Farmers’ Market Facebook page.