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Outdoor Market Debuts in July

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Saturday, July 16 and Sunday, July 17 is the “debut weekend” for Milwaukee Public Market’s outdoor farmers market at 400 N. Water St. Only the outdoor area will be open, with 19 farm stalls lining Water Street. The indoor market, scheduled to open for the fall season, was constructed with a focus on natural light and ventilation as well as other “green building techniques.” The structure will have 21,500 square feet on the ground floor and 13,000 square feet on the second floor. A total of 24 vendors will occupy the main floor. Two fresh produce stands with vegetables, fruits, spices and flowers are planned for the center of the market. In spaces around the edges, shops will offer cheese, bakery goods, fresh meats and seafood, ice cream, soup, and specialty foods from Wisconsin. The $11 million project is a product of private and public funding, including one federal grant of $300,000 in 2001, and $2.5 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration last April. The building itself has been described as “drab” and “boxy,” but was designed to blend with the factory buildings of the Third Ward district. However, descriptions of the building promise a pleasant place where neighbors and visitors can gather. And where locally-grown food is available to health-conscious urban dwellers. A demonstration kitchen with auditorium-style seating for 55 people will be a major feature of the second floor. There will also be a palm garden with seating for 100 people. Michael Fields Connection Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) in East Troy is slated to stock one of the two fresh produce stands on the market’s main floor. A leader in community supported agriculture and organic food production for the last 20 years, MFAI plans to use the public market to strengthen the conduit between urban consumers and local food growers. Plans call for the MFAI to work with 15 to 20 regional organic growers to stock the 830-square foot vendor stall, and to staff the space. Riverwest Connection The local market manager for Fields Best, as the produce market will be called, is Paul “PJ” Johnson, former produce manager for Outpost’s Capitol Drive store. Riverwest shoppers will recognize him, since he lives in the neighborhood. He’s excited about managing Fields Best. “We’ll be offering local, sustainable produce,” Johnson explained. “Michael Fields promotes organic, biodynamic and sustainable options. We believe any practice that reduces dependence on pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals is a step in the right direction.” This year-round market will offer “the best Wisconsin agricultural products, all in one place,” Johnson said. Education is another focus that Michael Fields Institute will bring to the Public Market. “Chef Julie [from Michael Fields Institute] will be using the demonstration kitchen to teach cooking classes utilizing local products,” Johnson said. “We’ll also be doing consumer education about local food production policy. Michael Fields Institute has a multi-faceted mission, focusing on instruction in growing techniques, public policy, and crop research. A current project involves scientists working on a variety of open pollinated corn that won’t accept pollen from GMO (genetically modified organ-ism) plants.” Milwaukee Public Market has been nine years in the making. But signs indicate that this innovative marketplace will be well worth the wait. Outdoor Farmers Market Hours of Operation: Saturdays and Sundays 8 am to 1 pm
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