Dalvery Blackwell has visited farmers markets every Saturday with her mother, Betty Wilbourn, since she was a little girl.
Wilbourn also remembers visiting the Center Street Haymarket at 3032 W. Center St. The Center Street Haymarket closed in 1980, relocating to 22nd and Fond Du Lac Avenue, the site of today’s Fondy Farmers Market. Fondy staff recently learned that the Haymarket opened in 1917, rather than in the 1930s.
Shoppers are offered a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, from watermelon and peppers to kale and cabbage.
Wilbourn, who grew up on a farm, did not know how city life would affect her diet.
“It made me (glad) to know I could come to the city and still get fresh vegetables,” Wilbourn said.
“It‘s not about the money,” Wilbourn said. “It’s about how much we love the [Fondy] Farmers Market,” referring to herself, her daughter and other customers.
Added Wilbourn, “I encourage everyone to come here and eat healthy food.”
The Fondy Farmers Market celebrated its 95th year of promoting locally grown produce at its recent Haymarket Days celebration, which also marked the end of Milwaukee’s annual Eat Local Challenge, which encourages individuals to eat locally grown, healthy foods.
In addition to choosing fresh produce, Haymarket Days visitors took part in cabbage bowling, face painting and blood pressure screenings by Columbia St. Mary’s staff, while listening to music by KT Rausch.
“What I remember about the Fondy Market is exactly what you see here today, except that now, it’s more diverse,” said Norbert Gilmore, another longtime customer.
In spring 2011, the Fondy Farmers Market took over 80 acres of land in Port Washington. The Fondy Farm Project aims to build an economically viable farm cooperative for immigrants and farmers with limited resources. It gives farmers access to affordable, long-term farmland leases, in addition to irrigation, greenhouses, tractors and laborsaving equipment.
The Fondy Farmers Market is home to more than 30 local farmers and vendors, and serves about 2,500 customers a week. The market accepts cash, QUEST cards, and senior and WIC farmer’s market vouchers.
“I appreciate not only the Fondy market, but all farmers markets in Milwaukee County,” Blackwell said. “It’s a privilege to be here.”