MADISON, Wis. - Next week a new farmers market will open in Madison's Brittingham Park. Not only will it sell locally grown food, it will teach people how to prepare it, too.
Madison police partnered with Bayview Foundation for the project that started with an idea from residents.
The groups submitted a grant to the Madison Food Policy Council six months ago, and police said it's another step to turn the once troubled park around.
In 2008 officers said up to 40 homeless men set up shop in the park shelter, and police said the amount of calls for service they responded to at the park was one of the highest amounts on the past 13 years.
Officer Kim Alan has been the neighborhood officer since last fall and co-wrote the $6,000 grant.
"We wanted to help these residents get to that goal of having their own market, having that opportunity for the fresh food and interacting as a neighborhood," Alan said.
The market is different than others because chefs will be on hand to teach consumers how to cook it.
In a press release the Madison Police Department said Clara Dockter, with University of Wisconsin Slow Food, will kick off the market on June 3 by demonstrating how to prepare grilled asparagus paired with pasta and a garlic lemon sauce.
Other chefs include Jeanne Benink, of Simply Served, preparing kale and collards on July 1; Bryan Stefanko, of 8 Seasons Grille, preparing raspberries on July 22; Police Chief Mike Koval and friends of the Madison Police Department preparing beets on Sept. 2; and Madison Area Technical College culinary students preparing plums on Sept. 23.
Stefanko can relate to preparing seasonal produce because 8 Seasons Grille changes its menu selection based on what foods are in season.
"It's great for the neighborhood," Stefanko said. "I live in the neighborhood, work in the neighborhood, and it's awesome for the people there to utilize it and get their hands on ingredients like that."
The market opens June 3 and continues each week from 3-6 p.m.until Sept. 23.
"We invite all of Madison to come out and celebrate with us because we really want this event to be a part of this neighborhood throughout summer and the summers to come," Alan said.
Police said calls to the park have decreased, and officers attribute that to security cameras and other legitimate uses for the park, including Brittingham boat rentals and a community garden.
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