Beloit, Janesville Farmers Show Off Best Produce Despite Slow Start To Growing Season

By SARA MYERS Adams Publishing Group

Aug 7, 2022

Beloit / Janesville Produce

Genesis Maldonado places some kohlrabi in a bag which she and her mother picked out at the Downtown Be
The Beloit Farmers Market will be held each Saturday through the end of October.
BDN Photo

 

BELOIT/JANESVILLE- On a sticky and humid Saturday morning, hundreds of
families flocked to the farmers markets in downtown Janesville and downtown Beloit
despite the beating sun.

And despite many local farmers expressing their disappointment with a slow start to
the growing season, the local producers brought their best crops for local
customers.

The Downtown Beloit Farmers Market is open every Saturday until the end of
October in Downtown Beloit on State Street and Grand Avenue from 8 a.m.—1 p.m.

Susan Wright of Wright Way Farm has been coming to the market since 2006 with
her husband, Denny, who got her into the world of farming and gardening. At the
Wright Way Farm booth you can see a large variety of green beans, assorted cherry
tomatoes, yellow, red and white potatoes, garlic, zucchini and more.

“Things are behind because of the cool and wet spring,” Wright said. “We had
cantaloupe earlier and we sold that out. Hopefully we will have large cherries next
week. Everything is about two weekends behind the curve.”

Crops like cherry tomatoes and melons are popular at the Beloit Farmers Market,
but have been hard to come by this summer. When Wright Way Farm goes to other
markets, they have different favorites depending on location. Near Chicago, the

best-sellers for them are onions, potatoes and garlic. The Wright also goes to
farmers markets in Rockford, Illinois and Kenosha, Wisconsin during the year.

“When he (her husband, Denny), was a kid he took over the family garden,” Wright
said. “Then when we lived in Janesville, he turned our city lot into a garden. Then we
moved up there and bought 38 acres and expanded from our house.”

Pader Thao’s grandfather has been coming to the market for many years with his
fresh produce, but when he fell ill his granddaughter, Pader, and son, Saoma,
stepped in to take on the Beloit Farmers Market this year and represent Thao’s Farm.

The booth has a variety of colors with rhubarb, beets, leeks, sweet onions, red
onions, green bell peppers, red potatoes, zucchini and more.

“It’s been really slow this year,” Thao said on how the crops have been growing. “We
had about two frosts in the spring. We have a lot of sweet peppers that we planted
and they’re really popular, but they’re not growing at all.”

Though they had a good variety of produce at the market Saturday, all of the crops
came in very late, but luckily many came in.

Thao has found that the radishes are the booth’s best selling item and that many
people enjoy their hand-peeled onion that shows their bright purple color. This year
they’re also selling flower bouquets, which include blue global thistles that are very
popular this summer.

The Janesville Farmers Market includes many local farmers who grow
organic crops from sweet corn, to large onions, beef, tomatoes, peppers and more.
The market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. -1 p.m. until October at the Town
Square in downtown Janesville.

Nathan Crawford of Crawford Farms specializes in two items at the
market—sweet corn and homemade soap. The Crawford family has been farming for
50 years and for the last 10 years Nathan Crawford has taken over the business.
Crawford Farms of Janesville has been participating at the market for the last five
years.

“It’s been a slow start (for the growing season),” Crawford said. “We had a
lot of stuff coming together at the same time. It was a terrible beginning, but it’s
great now.”

This is his third week at the market this summer and his first summer
selling homemade soap, which he learned how to make from a retired Janesville
Farmers Market vendor.

I do that (make soap) in the wintertime when I’m not doing anything
farming,” Crawford said. “It takes a month or so. Then it’s ready for summer. It’s just
something fun and different.”

Randy Redford from Redford Farm specializes in onions at the farmers
market. Specifically at their booth are three types of onions—Texas 10-15, Ring
Master and Red River.

“I’m third generation. My grandfather used to sell at the Madison Farmers
Market,” Redford said. “We raised 100,000 (onions) back in the day and we only put in
about 3,000 now.”

Redford, like Crawford, said he was limited in what he could bring to the
market since it was a more difficult growing season. The mild and sweet “Texas 10-
15” is a clear favorite for market shoppers.

Sara Myers
“They’re the Texas answer to the Georgia Vidalia (another popular onion),”
Redford said. “10-15 stands for their harvest date which is October 15. That’s where it
comes from.”