From Farm to Market: Wisconsin's Backroads Bounty

Nothing quite says summer in Wisconsin like taking a stroll around one of our many farmers' markets. With markets and roadside stands in all corners of our state, there is no shortage of places to buy fresh locally grown Wisconsin produce.

Wisconsin is home to the nation's largst producers-only farmer's market:the Dane County Farmers' Market held in Madison around the State Capitol Square. Each Saturday morning, mid-April through October, thousands of visitors and locals alike meander around the Square delighted by a tantalizing tableau of fresh produce and baked goods.

Wisconsin grows a variety of fruit including apples, cherries, cranberries, pears, grapes, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Pick-your-own orchards and berry patches are scattered across the state; or buy them pre-picked and packaged by the grower. Either way, you’ll enjoy the freshest and tastiest fruit available.

Wisconsin growers cultivate more than two dozen varieties of apples, grown in every corner of the state. While most orchards are clustered in southern and central Wisconsin, the Bayfield Peninsula in far northern Wisconsin and the Door County Peninsula in northeastern Wisconsin are prime apple producers. Other prime apple-growing areas include Gays Mills/Richland Center in southwestern Wisconsin; the greater Madison area in south-central Wisconsin, and the Chippewa Falls/Eau Claire area in northwestern Wisconsin.

Door and Kewaunee Counties, which form Wisconsin’s “thumb,” are national leaders in the production of red tart cherries. Springtime in the orchards brings visitors by the thousands to view the profusion of pastel blossoms in the area’s cherry and apple orchards. In the fall, folks return for the bountiful harvest. Both are special times in a very special place.

Cranberries are Wisconsin’s number one fruit crop. Wisconsin growers produce 260 million pounds of fruit annually – more than forty percent of the nation’s total. Cranberries are one of only three fruits native to Wisconsin. Today, they are grown in 19 of the state’s 72 counties. Their production is centered near Wisconsin Rapids, Black River Falls and Tomah in central Wisconsin; and near Eagle River, Spooner, and Hayward in northern Wisconsin. Many of these communities offer special tours of their cranberry marshes at harvest time.

Whether you buy it at urban farm markets or from a farm stand down that quiet country road, Wisconsin fruit and produce are part of what makes us special. Taste it all – and take some home with you.