The Southern Wisconsin Farm-Fresh Atlas is a perennial winter crop. The seed for this directory of local-food providers gets planted in the fall, about the time the late-season apples are getting harvested at local U-pick orchards, and then in April it blooms. One of the people who nurtures it over those months is Cris Carusi, communications manager for the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. This year’s atlas is the 9th edition — it was first published in 2002. Carusi has handled layout and production for five of them and served on the steering committee since the project began. She works closely with Miriam Grunes, Executive Director of the REAP Food Group, which co-produces the atlas with CIAS.
“We got involved through (CALS Professor and CIAS co-director) Jack Kloppenburg, who was heading up the REAP Food Group at the time. He brought them together with the Dane County Farmers Market and CIAS. The farmers market provided the community connections. CIAS provided support with layout and design,” Carusi says. “A key partner for the past six years has been Bill Buckingham of the Applied Population Lab, who does all of the mapping for the atlas.”
The project begins in fall with a letter to solicit listings. That part has become easier over the years. As the atlas has become established and increased in both circulation (from 20,000 to 45,000) and size (from a fold-out map to a 44-page book), farms, stores and restaurants have become familiar with the project and are eager to be included. There’s a fee for being listed, but CIA and REAP strive to keep it affordable. Farms get a reduced price.
This is the second year that restaurants have been listed. This year there are 27 eateries listed, each of which has pledged to include locally produced fresh food on its menu. There are 49 farmers markets listed this year, up from 20 in 2002, and 119 farms, up from 50 in the first atlas.
The Southern Wisconsin Farm-Fresh Atlas includes listings from much of the Driftless Region as well as farms located close to Milwaukee. It has also yielded some spinoffs. There are now four other Wisconsin atlases listing local-food providers. The other four cover the southeastern, eastern, central and western portions of the state.
For more information on the Southern Wisconsin Farm Fresh Atlas, including a list of places to get it, go here.