Mary LaCharite attributes the success of the Fox Point Farmers’ Market to loyal vendors, customers and volunteers. In reality, there may not even be a farmers market for them to be part of had it not been for the efforts of Mary and her husband, Jim. They brought the event to the village 10 years ago despite having no applicable farming experience.
“The market has been my best medicine,” said Mary, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1990, the same year she and Jim were married and moved to Fox Point.
“I could sit in a corner and feel badly for myself, but I focus on what I can still do. There’s a lot of positive energy at the market,” said Mary, who has gone through the stages of walking with a cane and using a walker. Today she relies on a power wheelchair.
Mary added that it’s also great to have a supportive partner, although she admits she and Jim try to take one month off from even talking about the market after it shuts down for the year. They’re assisted throughout the season by 20 volunteers who help ensure the market runs smoothly.
“We have great fun doing it. It’s a place where people are happy and I think it’s been a great community resource,” says Mary, who grew up on Milwaukee’s west side and spent her professional career in publishing. In other words, she had no related farming background when she and Jim solicited the Fox Point Village Board to get the market started.
“It’s important to support Wisconsin agriculture,” added Mary, who was recently asked to join the Wisconsin Farmers Market Association Board because of her efforts and continued enthusiasm for making the Fox Point Farmers’ Market a continued success. Mary credits much of that to the vendors. Two of the original three vendors, Growing Power and Mom’s Produce, have been there for all 10 years. (The third original vendor went out of business.) Many of the 23 others have joined by word of mouth.
“The Greek pastries vendor knew our beef vendor. Wisconsin Soup brought in an ice cream vendor. We are really very happy to be in a position where vendors are happy with the sales, environment and customers, and recommend us to other vendors. That’s the best endorsement you can get.”
If you go:
The Fox Point Farmers’ Market is open from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday from mid-June to mid-October and features an assortment of locally produced food ranging from eggs and vegetables to fresh bakery, jellies and coffee; presentations and demonstrations by health, gardening and safety experts; and performances by area musicians and dancers. Collections are held for the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative. To commemorate its 10th year this summer, the market is also holding a weekly drawing for prizes. The market is located at 7300 N. Lombardy in Fox Point.
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