Find Sustainable, Accessible Food at Local Farmers Markets

Sustainable, organic farming is in season this summer at Door County’s farmers markets. From Kewaunee to Washington Island, local farmers are delivering their seasonal produce to shoppers. 

“Things are heating up for summer,” according to Randall Manges of Big Dog Farms, who said he grows “all produce except sweet corn” at his farm and sells it at farmers markets in Sturgeon Bay and Jacksonport. 

Availability depends on what’s being harvested, of course. Mid- to late July is high cherry season, but also look for vegetables such as broccoli and cucumbers, which Manges said he plans to harvest during the next week. Tomatoes, hearty berries such as gooseberries, cabbages and plums will most likely be ready in two to three weeks, he said. Pears and apples are the last produce to harvest for the season, in late August. 

Manges said some vegetables are available all season, however: “We plant on rotation, so we’ll have a rolling stock of many things like lettuce and red beets and things like that.”

For Pat Thorp of Pat’s Patch in Sturgeon Bay, garlic – one of her most popular crops – is just coming into season. She sells her produce at the Settlement Shops’ farmers market outside of Fish Creek every Wednesday and at the Sturgeon Bay farmers market on Saturday mornings.
Thorp said she grows and sells many types of produce, including Swiss chard, broccoli, tomatoes and potatoes. 

“Hopefully soon I’ll have sugar snap peas,” she said, “and I’ll start having garlic for sale. I’ve had three people ask me already, ‘When are you going to start selling garlic?’”

Thorp said she grows her produce without the use of chemical pesticides, as does Big Dog Farms. 

For those who are concerned about where and how their food is grown and processed, farmers markets can be a great place to shop. Laura Apfelbeck, director of FoodWIse for Manitowoc, Kewaunee and Door counties, said most farmers-market growers are local, meaning that their produce is fresher and often has fewer preservatives. 

As for Big Dog Farm, Manges said every step of the growing process is done at the farm in Sturgeon Bay. 

“We do it all, from seed to harvest,” he said, “including, in many cases, saving our own seed from year to year. And we use organic, sustainable practices for all of our vegetables.” 

Farmers markets are good for shoppers, but also for those making a living through their small-scale farms. 

“Being a person who grows carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers – there’s a fine line between breaking even and losing your tail,” Apfelbeck said. “The weather can go bad; the bugs could be bad; you don’t get enough rain, or you get too much rain; it’s too hot.”

She said farmers markets are a great place for anyone to get fresh, in-season produce regardless of their income level. 

“It’s important to include people who may have historically not thought the farmers markets were for them – that it’s more of a middle-class or upper-middle-class Saturday-afternoon event,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be. It can be a place where anybody can go and get really good cucumbers that last for a long time, or whatever they want to eat.” 

One way to ensure that markets are accessible is to have an on-site EBT machine to allow shoppers to use government food assistance. Sturgeon Bay’s and Washington Island’s farmers markets on Saturday mornings have EBT machines, Apfelbeck said, as well as Jacksonport’s farmers market on Tuesdays.

To discover new local foods and farmers, visit one of Door County’s nine summer farmers markets.

Baileys Harbor
Baileys Harbor Town Hall, 2392 Cty F
Sundays until Oct. 8, 9 am – 1 pm

Egg Harbor
Hatch Distilling Company, 7740 Hwy 42
Fridays until Sept. 29, 9 am – 1 pm

10404 Water St. (adjacent to the Red Putter)
Evenings in Ephraim: Mondays until Aug. 28, 4-7 pm

Fish Creek
Settlement Shops, 9106 Hwy 42
Wednesdays until Oct. 18, 9:30 am – 1:30 pm

Lakeside Park on Highway 57
Tuesdays until Oct. 17, 9 am – 1 pm

At the corner of Milwaukee and Miller streets
Thursdays until Sept. 28, 4-7 pm

Sister Bay
Corner of the Past Museum, 10310 Fieldcrest Road
Saturdays until Oct. 7, 9 am – 1 pm

Sturgeon Bay
3rd Avenue, Nebraska Street and a portion of Market Square
Saturdays until Oct. 14, 8 am – 12 pm

Washington Island
1177 Main Road
Saturdays until Oct. 28, 9 am – 12 pm