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Portage Farmers Market

Sophia Schave, center, hands her grandmother, Marie Schave, a bag of red potatoes Thursday while helping customer Betty Mootz at the Portage Farmers Market. "I think things are a little bit later than usual," Mootz said, but she was glad to see the potatoes were available Thursday.

Wet conditions have altered the timing, though not necessarily the condition, of produce sold at area farmers markets.

Nancy Dillman serves as assistant director of the Baraboo Farmers Market alongside her husband, Fred Moh, who founded the market in the 1980s. They only began to see radishes in the first week of July.

“The weather has not been kind to farmers or growers,” Dillman said.

Radishes, and a handful of other vegetables, have arrived to the market despite being weeks behind. Everything is grown locally and not much has been on time in light of the weather, Dillman said.

“Everybody’s gardens are just mucky,” she said.

Marie Schave of Pardeeville has been going to farmers markets for nearly two decades and was selling produce Thursday at the Portage Farmers Market with her grandchildren, Sophia and Wyatt Schave. The assortment of cucumbers, zucchini, peaches, rhubarb and red potatoes came from roughly 5 acres on her son Chris Schave’s farm near Beaver Dam. Quarts of strawberries came from Price Family Produce near Pardeeville.

It was a wet planting season, but the positive side of the saturated ground was that once the seeds or plants were in the ground they didn’t need watering, Marie Schave said.

“It’s been kind of a trying year, because it’s been so wet,” she said. “A lot of the crops got in late.”

She said despite the delay, things like rhubarb, cucumbers and kohlrabi grow quickly, making it easier to provide them during markets in spring.

It may be a matter of adjusting as the seasons shift from their usual months for Maureen Bula, who has operated Bula Pleasant Valley Farm in rural North Freedom for 35 years with her husband, Ron. Bula dedicates 5 acres to growing produce, boasting a great variety, from potatoes to squash, peppers, tomatoes and herbs like parsley, lemongrass and basil.

“This year has been very challenging just to get anything in the ground,” Bula said.

While some plants “are exploding,” a number of others have been restricted to growing inside. Bula said she generally begins them in small pots indoors while waiting for spring weather to warm up. They grew a great deal this year before she could get them in the soil, she said.

Dillman and Bula echoed one another over whether customers have been frustrated by the lag in time.

“I think they’re delighted to see things,” Bula said.

Marie Schave said most people seem to understand things are late because of the weather. She estimated beans should be ready in about two weeks, “and now things are looking really good.”

Dillman noted that some people may be frustrated with the slow start but most are glad to see the offerings. Customers avoid the market when the weather is bad, balancing supply and demand a bit, she said.

However, it is sweet corn season and people have been expressing great interest in when it’s going to be available, Dillman said.

Follow Bridget on Twitter @cookebridget.

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