Pleasure Practices: Get thee to a farmers’ market

Taking joy in a Madison tradition we often take for granted.
A photo shows a block of Hooks’ 20-year cheddar, a block of Brun-Uusto baked cheese, and a spice shaker labeled “7 Chili Blend.” The items are arranged on a wood table, with a purple vase in the background.
Photo by Schalk.

Taking joy in a Madison tradition we often take for granted.

This is our newsletter-first column, Microtones. It runs on the site on Fridays, but you can get it in your inbox on Thursdays by signing up for our email newsletter.

Happy Pride Month, babes! Summer has arrived, extra hot and ready for some outdoor delights. In past summer months I’ve talked about the pleasures of growing something good and eating it, glamping, and of course, getting wet. Now, as the seasonal depression leaves our bodies, it’s a great time to revisit those previous summer pleasure practices—they never get old! As a person who struggles through the 17 months of winter each year, summers in Madison are like a pleasure high for me. I spend so much time on my balcony, in hammocks, on the lakes, and just generally hanging outside with friends, day and night. But I realize there’s one Madison seasonal pleasure I haven’t discussed here yet: the Dane County Farmers’ Market!

I think after living in Madison for a while, I sort of started taking the Farmers’ Market for granted, but recently a friend of mine was visiting and I decided to take her to the Market (where I was picking up my collectively-purchased quarter pound of Hook’s 20 year aged cheddar, which honestly deserves to be its own pleasure practice, but it’s expensive AF and I try not to be TOO bougie/inaccessible with my suggestions here!). The Dane County Farmers’ Market is the country’s largest producer-only farmers’ market, which means that the people and businesses selling there made or grew whatever they’re selling you, whether it’s asparagus, eggs, gluten-free bagels, a flower bouquet, or a truffle cheddar. The market happens Saturdays downtown on the Capitol Square, 6:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., from April to November. There’s also a smaller Wednesday market (check out the DCFM website for more info on this as well as off-season market details). The Dane County Farmers’ Market is one of my favorite things to show visitors who haven’t been to Madison before. It’s huge, full of life, and an absolute pleasure to experience and to share with someone who hasn’t experienced it before. Here are some specific things I took pleasure and joy in on my most recent visit:

  • Sampling a ton of, well, everything. My favorite new-to-me tastes this trip were Hook’s truffle cheddar, Brunkow’s brun-uusto baked cheese with cranberries and Savory Accents’ 7 chili blend (a spicy pepper seasoning blend, sold on its own or pre-mixed into hummus or a creamy dip, all delicious. I’ve been putting it on everything).
  • Unexpectedly running into colleagues and friends.
  • Fresh asparagus I took home and cooked that evening. So fresh!
  • People, baby/kiddo, and pet watching while resting on a bench. Thank you to everyone who dressed their children and/or pets in adorable outfits. 
  • Avoiding peak crowds and difficult parking by getting in and out before 9 a.m.
  • Getting compliments on my outfit.
  • Talking to vendors about their products and feeling good about handing my money over directly to producers.
  • Visiting the artist row at the top of State Street where I saw two local artists I really like: T.L. Luke and Hijinx Mixed Media (support local queer artists especially during Pride month!).
  • Sunshine, sunshine, sunshine.

When’s the last time you went to the Dane County Farmers’ Market or another farmers’ market in your neighborhood (check this listing for others in Madison)? There are so many pleasures to be had in going to a farmers’ market, especially one as big and diverse as the Saturday Dane County Farmers’ Market. You could truly spend a whole day hanging out, people watching, and eating delicious food. Bring a picnic blanket, buy a bouquet of fresh flowers, and eat your market bounty right there on the Capitol lawn! Instant cute friend/partner/solo date! So this month, embrace your seasonal pleasures and remember: badass bitches take pleasure in buying local when they can!

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