Farmers market vendors recovering from harsh winter

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The harsh winter season this past year took a toll on growers in Eau Claire. The snow and cold are still affecting what they have to sell including vendors at the Eau Claire Downtown Farmers Market.

“This year the weather is bad with the cold days and a lot of snow,” says Mee Yang Xiong who has been selling her produce at the farmers market since the ‘90s.

This winter saw record breaking snowfall totals across the Chippewa Valley, with almost one hundred inches falling in Eau Claire.

For some vendors at the farmer's market, the season is off to a slow start.

“We have less crops such as radishes and spinach,” says market vendor Nou Vang. “It’s just been really bad for growing. It’s not the best year.”

With the long lasting snow, vendors say they had to plant seeds later than usual.

Xiong usually plants her seeds in April, but with snow still on the ground, she had to wait until May. She says some of her usual crops such as onions did not survive the cold weather.

Farmers Market Manager Deidra Barrickman says flooding from melting snow and rain has also presented challenges to farmers.

“They've had a hard time keeping what they've planted in the ground because it gets washed out,” Barrickman says.

However, she says dealing with bad weather is just part of the deal for the market.

“Weather plays a big part in any farmer’s life,” Barrickman says. “Some years there will be an abundance because we've had an early spring and warmth and other years if it is cold and doesn't warm up until later or there’s a lot of rain like this it will have a little slower start to it.”

Only a handful of vendors were at the market on Thursday which Barrickman says is not normal for this time of year.

But since crops are just starting to grow, she says vendors are likely skipping the weekday market in favor of the busier Saturday markets.

“The quantity of product that they have is not great so since quantities are short they are unable to come during the week right now,” Barrickman says.

However, she is hopeful that with time, crops and gardens will go back to normal.

As we go on the weather will improve and there will be more crops that are ready and ripe and will be coming to market so you'll see the tables filling up weekdays and weekends,” Barrickman says. “I expect that in a few months you'll never know that this happened.”

The market offers a variety of produce, bakery items flowers and more from sometimes up to 70 different vendors.

The Eau Claire Downtown Farmers Market is every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at Phoenix Park.