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Oconomowoc Winter Famers Market begins Nov. 11

"Just because there's a foot of snow on the ground doesn't mean you can't enjoy fresh produce," Shawn Rediske of Waterhouse Foods points out about the upcoming Oconomowoc winter farmers market.

The market returns for the third year on Sunday, Nov. 11. Rediske said what makes the market great is the vendors who travel from throughout the state to Oconomowoc, bringing an eclectic mix of locally grown, organic and, most importantly, fresh food during winter months. "You can get everything from mushrooms to margarita mix," he said.

Returning vendors

Vendors will return for the 2012-13 market, and a new feature this year is the opportunity to learn more about their products during Ask the Vendor Experts demonstrations. The first ask the experts program is from 10:30 to 11:30 n Sunday, Nov. 25, with Georgia Meyer of Silver Creek Alpacas. Meyer said she is becoming one of fewer than a dozen certified alpaca fiber sorters. Her friend, a certified sorter, will also be on hand for the demonstration. Meyer makes and sells products such as scarves, hats and socks from the alpaca fiber.

"We will have different grades and discuss the quality of the product," she said.

Quality products and a wealth of experience make the market a draw, Rediske said. He has collaborated with other vendors at the market, such as Amy-Mae Miller of Thymely Herbals, for the ingredients Waterhouse Foods uses in its bakery items. "She is our resident chemist," Rediske said of Miller's knowledge and the things one can create from her products.

New faces

New to the market this year are Phil and Jeanne Esche with their new venture, Steppin' Out Foods. Jeanne recently retired after 19 years teaching at Dousman Elementary, and Phil said his job went by the wayside. The pair love to cook and entertain, and their homemade pickled asparagus became such a hit that friends said they should sell it. They found a commercial kitchen in Watertown and debuted at the Waukesha farmers market this summer. They sell the asparagus and "belly beans," a spicy green bean concoction. They've also found success with jams and natural sweet potato dog treats. Their second "career" has been a hit and a lot of fun, said Phil. They named their new venture after Jeanne's love of shoes and the idea when you go out for a good time you dress well and eat well, both things the couple has experience in.

They're excited about joining the Oconomowoc winter farmers market. Phil said they've sold more than twice what they expected, and they also are giving back through their sales.

"We donate 5 percent of our selling price to HAWS," Phil said of the benefit to the Waukesha Humane Animal Welfare Society. "All of our products end in 99 cents, so if people don't want their penny back, then penny gets donated to HAWS. We've probably donated about $100 or so to HAWS."

Market bounty

The winter market is free and runs the second and fourth Sunday of the month through March. You can expect to see all kinds of vendors and their goodies, including artisan breads, toffee, eggs, cheese, beef, lamb, dips, sauces, vegetables, crackers, granola, fudge sauce and more. The market runs from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. inside the Oconomowoc Landscape Supply and Garden Center greenhouses, N68 W37850 Highway K.

The first market, on Sunday, Nov. 11, will feature a children's educational talk by the 65th Alice in Dairyland, Rochelle Ripp, beginning at 10 a.m., and a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas. For a listing of all the season's programs go to the Oconomowoc winter farmers' market website, www.oconomowoc.org. For a complete list of all producers and market products, go to www.oconomowoc.org/farmers-market-winter.php.

Winter market

What: Oconomowoc winter farmers market

When: 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. the second and fourth Sundays of the month, Nov. 11-March

Where: Oconomowoc Landscape Supply and Garden Center greenhouses, N68 W37850 Highway K

Cost: Free

Info: www.oconomowoc.org or www.oconomowocorg/farmers-market-winter.php

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