This post is contributed by Ally Hrkac, our current Material Culture Summer Service Learner. Ally recently completed her B.S. in Secondary Education at UW-Madison and is working with Recollection Wisconsin this summer to develop online exhibits and educational resources.
“This smell of the country gets me. I don’t wonder the farmer is held under the hypnotic spell of Mother Nature and thinks about all the stuffy city is good for is to trade with and visit occasionally.”
The anonymous “Man from Honolulu,” observing the fall landscape on the shore of Lake Winnebago, captures the essence of Wisconsin farms and Wisconsin farmers’ markets. City dwellers, like the farmers themselves, are drawn to the “spell” of nature and are thankful for these farmers’ gifts to the “stuffy city.”
Wisconsin farmers, artisans, and other vendors work hard all year to prepare for farmers’ markets in order to provide goods to the local community. Many Wisconsin residents “buy local” to support their farmers, and the myriad of market locations around the state allow locals to do so.
The photographs in this slideshow portray the farmers’ markets – a variety including general markets, roadside stands, and co-ops – of the past. Notice the types of goods and services sold; take a look at the form of transportation used. What has changed? What has stayed the same?
Though goods and services may have drastically varied over the years to meet the needs of the evolving community and customer, some things remain – the gathering of a community, a morning or afternoon spent outdoors, the support and promotion of local food consumption, the charm of local craft, and the joy that fresh food brings to Wisconsin market goers. What is your favorite part of farmers’ markets? Which Wisconsin farmers’ markets have you attended?
The images in this online exhibit come from the following digital collections. Click the links to browse the full collections.
- Eau Claire Area Historical Photographs, Chippewa Valley Museum
- Milwaukee Historic Photos, Milwaukee Public Library
- Milwaukee Neighborhoods: Photos and Maps 1885-1992, UW-Milwaukee Libraries
- Remember When . . . Collection, Milwaukee Public Library
- UW-Madison Collection, UW-Madison Archives. Part of the University of Wisconsin Collection from University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
- Wisconsin Historical Images, Wisconsin Historical Society