Known for its disc golf course and splash pad, the largest community park on Madison's west side welcomed a new family-friendly attraction this month.
The Elver Park Farmers Market runs every Saturday morning throughout the summer, featuring educational displays and nearly a dozen vendors selling fresh foods, flowers and other locally sourced and made products.
The market is visible from McKenna Boulevard, located in the corner of the parking lot between the playground and splash pad. So while parents are scouting out sales on produce, kiddos can put on their swimsuits or sneakers for a morning of fun.
Families who live nearby can ditch their cars and choose to walk or ride their bicycle to the park since it's conveniently located along a paved bike path. That's how I arrived from the Greentree Neighborhood on opening day, and I passed a few people walking their dogs and pulling their kiddos in wagons who also stopped to explore the market.
That breezy morning in June is when I met Terri Belz, who had already sold out of pork chops, beef sticks and summer sausage by 11 a.m. She and her husband, Rocky, own Sugar River Farm in Belleville.
She said even though the market is smaller than others in Madison, there is still good variety so people don't have to make a separate trip to the grocery store. She even agreed to keep some purchased meat in her cooler for a family so they could spend time at the playground before heading home.
"It's a great little market," Belz said. "It's a community event."
The market isn't just about helping local farmers make a profit. Organizers hope it brings neighbors and strangers together in a positive way to "bring down food discrepancies, build community (and) address community health issues," according to the group's Facebook page.
As the season picks up, the market will also feature special events such as live music and tractor rides. Supporting organizations like SSM Health, MG&E, Summit Credit Union and the Madison Urban League will also provide educational opportunities for residents, The Capital Times reported, and city grants offer food stamp programs.
Mayor Paul Soglin even chimed in about the market on his blog, recognizing the Prairie Hills and Madison West Neighborhood Associations for their collaborative efforts to make it a reality.
Check it out
What: Elver Park Farmers Market
When: 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, June 10-Sept. 16, 2017