Variety is the theme of Tomah Farmers Market


Jeff Paulson and his wife Son get ready for their next customers at the market. Herald photos by Rhonda Hess

Jeff Paulson shows a group a log designed to grow shitake mushrooms.

The Tomah Farmers Market opened Saturday morning in Tomah’s Gillett Park with vendors offering everything from farm raised beef and pork to upcycled bird feeders and mushroom logs.

One of the participants, Abby Wiedmeyer, used to write about life on the farm in a column for the Monroe County Herald. Now she is promoting her farm in a different way, as part of Tomahs Farmers Market. Abby and her family run 1st Gen Farm in Norwalk said Saturday was her first time selling at a farmer’s market.

“This is the first one I’m trying,” she said. Wiedmeyer sold beef and pork at the market, along with butter. “We have our milk shipped to Grassland, so we have butter available,” she said.

Wiedmeyer also had recipes and mixes from the Great American Pancake Company at her booth. “They (the pancakes) complement our bacon and breakfast sausage really well,” she said.

Pancake mix flavors included favorites like brown sugar oatmeal, five grain and chocolate chip.

Several wildlife feeders were available Saturday, including Wyeville’s Roxy Bell’s squirrel feeders (miniature wooden picnic tables with cobs of corns for the scurrying critters) and bluebird houses.

Another vendor, Geri Hoder of Oakdale, was selling upcycled bird feeders created with mason jars and vintage-looking plates and bowls. Some of the feeders were colorful and others let the sunshine through with crystal clear plates.

According to the Tomah Farmers Market Facebook page, future vendors include those selling handmade crafts, fruits, vegetables, canned goods, bakery items, flowers and more.

Saturday, Jeff and Son Paulson of Tomah looked like they were running a firewood booth at the Tomah Farmers Market. However, the logs they were selling were designed to help people grow their own shitake mushrooms.

Through a process called “force fruiting,” Jeff explained the logs could be soaked in cold water for 24 hours, simulating exposure to heavy rain. This allows shitake mushrooms to grow on the logs. “You repeat the process in eight weeks,” he said.

The logs last from two to three years, based on how they are stored, he said. When asked how to store the log in the winter, Jeff said, “throw it in a snowbank.”

The Paulsons provide an instruction booklet with each log sold. In it, shitake log owners can find out about harvesting information and keep track of fruiting dates.

One customer was impressed with the process. “I want one of these,” Joy Wagner of Wheatland said. “I think it would be fun.”

The Farmer’s Market fun continues each Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. until October 31. To find out more, or to register as a vendor, go to the City of Tomah’s website at tomahonline.com.

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