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Brookfield Farmers Market to accept FoodShare

Change will open market to new users in the next season

Shoppers stroll through the Brookfield Farmers Market.

Shoppers stroll through the Brookfield Farmers Market. Photo By Peter Zuzga

Oct. 31, 2012

The Brookfield Farmers Market will accept Wisconsin FoodShare as a method of payment next season.

FoodShare, also known as SNAP, benefits allow low-income families to buy groceries. The card used for purchases is similar to a debit card, with funds loaded by the state.

Bobbi Harvey is the market manager and said the changes are a good way for the market to make fresh produce available to more people.

"People who are eligible for FoodShare dollars are able to come and purchase fresh items that are going to be nutritious for them," she said. "This is a good way to expand the market to those who were not able to spend their money at the market up to this point."

The Brookfield Farmers Market was one of several to get a grant from the state aimed at allowing more farmers markets to accept FoodShare as a method of payment. The grant provides the money Harvey needs to purchase a wireless device that facilitates acceptance of FoodShare payments.

The Brookfield Farmers Market, which just finished its 21st year, grows more popular each season, with visitors coming from Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, New Berlin and surrounding communities, Harvey said. The market is held Saturdays May through October outside City Hall.

"On any given Saturday, I know that we have well over 4,000 (customers)," Harvey said. "The patronage has continued to grow. Our customers come out whether it's raining or sunny outside."

Market specialties include artisan cheeses, fresh meats, farm fresh eggs and fresh bakery items from vendors whose wares aren't available in grocery stores.

More than a festival of crops, the farmers market also has become a meeting place for neighbors and friends.

"We're a very social market. A lot of people come and have breakfast and socialize with their neighbors," Harvey said.

While attendance was steady, this year's drought and frost did affect some crops.

"I would say the corn producers were mainly affected with the drought. Several farmers planted, and with the drought some were just dried up fields," Harvey said. "Apple, pear and plum crops were also dramatically affected this spring when we got a frost."

Two of Harvey's vendors were forced to drop out this season because of their losses, but were replaced by different vendors with comparable products.

The Brookfield Farmers Market will start a new season in May.

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