November 2005

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Producer Profile: Vermont Valley Community Farm

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Market Closes for the Winter
After an Enjoyable 4th Season!

by Lynn Olson, Member Services Manager

Dodging an early frost, the Eastside Farmers’ Market enjoyed an especially long season after a very dry summer. The final market, held on October 11th, marked another successful year of bringing Madison’s Eastside community that much closer to their food source at the Tuesday market. Since its inception, the weekly summer market has enjoyed steady, even growth in attendance, but the farmers are hoping that the creation of the Central Park has and will continue to improve aesthetics of the site and the Market’s overall visibility.

Plans for the park
After enduring much of the season, which started in early May adjacent to a large dirt pile, work was finally finished on the property near the end of July and has now been adequately treated for soil contamination. Years of industrial use on the property had left heavy metal contaminants and other materials in the soil, and work to remediate it was ordered by the Department of Natural Resources before it could be opened to the general public. Initially remediated in 2002, the three-acre Eastside Farmers’ Market area was finally able to remove the fencing surrounding their lot, which was required to keep the public off of the large, open, unremediated field behind the market. The massive earthmoving work done this summer on the remainder of the lot has produced a large, lovely green field, frequently enjoyed by neighborhood residents.

Current property owners Urban Open Space Foundation (USOF) realized significant advances in their goal to convert the entire lot into a 17-acre public park this summer when they were granted $3.5 million in federal federal monies to perform the necessary relocation of the railroad tracks that currently bisect the property. At a press conference in June, 2005, Heather Mann, Executive Director for UOSF, unveiled the revised concept plan for Central Park that includes a native garden, Market/bicycle plaza, open lawn and stage, skateboard park and a naming wall featuring a reflecting pond. “The revised concept plan creates a one-of-a-kind park that reflects Madison’s diversity, serves the immediate neighborhoods and the greater Madison region, and provides a fitting gateway to Wisconsin’s capital city,” Mann said at the

Looking forward
While plans to begin construction on the ambitious project haven’t yet been slated, the farmers from the Eastside Farmers’ Market are grateful for the opportunity to use the current space and are looking forward to continuing to remain a part of the final plan.

With a project cost to complete the park at $20 million, half of which has been committed through public funding, more fundraising will be necessary to complete the elements and provide for long-term management for the park.