Wisconsin’s Farm Fresh Atlases Help Consumers Chart Path to Local and Organic Food
October 19, 2011 | Deanna Krinn
Wisconsin consumers seeking an easy way to find locally and organically grown food have a great resource to point them in the right direction: Wisconsin’s Farm Fresh Atlases.
The Farm Fresh Atlases have been around since 2002 and are produced yearly with five different editions for the various regions of Wisconsin. The Atlases are distributed at farmers markets, participating farms and businesses, tourism and convention bureaus, public libraries, and events like county fairs. The goal is to put “sustainable farms, farmers markets and local businesses and organizations that promote local food ‘on the map’,” according to the organization’s website.
“We’re developing this Atlas to meet consumers’ renewed interest in choosing where their food comes from,” said agriculture educator at Kenosha and Racine Counties’ University of Wisconsin-Extension, Rose Skora, in a press release. “Consumers want the freshest, best tasting and healthiest food available. Additionally, they want to help preserve farms as part of the local landscape. The Atlas lets people know where and how to buy directly from growers.”
Regional atlases that cover the West, Central, East, South and Southeast regions of the state are each printed and maintained independently in those areas by various non-profits, farmers, farmers markets, University of Wisconsin Extensions, Resource Conservation and Development District offices (RC&Ds), and University of Wisconsin campuses.
A variety of organizations are eligible to be listed, including direct-to-consumer farming operations, farm stands, farmers markets, CSA’s, or you-pick style farms. Food co-ops, restaurants, bakeries, meat processors, cheese factories, and other food-related businesses can also participate as business sponsors.
While the atlases are helpful to consumers seeking sustainable food options, they’re also a great tool for farmers who often don’t have the time or resources to put into marketing. Gail Yerke of Yerke Frog Valley Greenhouses in Mukwonago, Wisc. said in a press release that the Farm Fresh Atlas of Southeast Wisconsin is one of her business’ greatest marketing tools.
“It’s where you need to be if you offer direct-farm sales, agri-entertainment or farm market sales. Our farm customers love the atlas section listing all of the farm markets in our part of the state,” she said.
The publications have a wide circulation, with 80,000 copies expected to be printed in 2012 for the Southeastern Wisconsin edition alone. Those farms and businesses listed in printed copies of the atlas also have their information featured on the atlas websites, if available (some regional publications do not have websites).
Deadlines are currently approaching for the 2012 editions, and those interested in being featured are asked to apply soon. Atlases will be available for distribution beginning in March of 2012.
If you live in the Wisconsin area or are interested in learning more about the Farm Fresh Atlases, visit the website.