Farmers at annual open house event expect slow start to growing - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Farmers at annual open house event expect slow start to growing season

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Madison (WKOW)--  A celebration of Spring is going on in downtown Madison, as 35 farmers with the Community Supported Agriculture Coalition eagerly anticipate the growing season.

"Like my mother said, it's off like a herd of turtles," Jill Varney of Small Family Farm says. "It's coming , but it's slow."

The growing season can't come soon enough for local farmers who met with nearly 2,000 potential customers at the 22nd annual CSA Fairshare open house. Attendees are already thinking about fresh produce even though temps are still in the 30's and the ground is still as hard as a rock.

"It's looking like it's going to be a late Spring, a week or two behind schedule, but besides that we're expecting a normal season," Matt Kelly of High Meadow Farm says.

Besides the negative effects of a late start to the season, farmers say there actually are some benefits to a long and cold winter.

"It can certainly help with insect pressure and disease pressure. This helps to kind of kill off those higher populations of pests," Varney says.

Plus, farmers say the snow cover this winter helped to trap a lot of moisture in the ground. That means the soil is wet and healthy going into the season, but keeping that soil wet throughout the rest of the season is a different story.

"You always hope for a nice and balanced kind of season, but you almost never get that. You prepare yourself for whatever mother nature gives you and you work with it," Scott Laeser of Plowshares and Prairie Farm says.

Growers say they'll take the late start over a crushing drought any day. After a tough year in 2012 and a so-so year last year, they're looking forward to a good season this Summer. They say frozen ground in the middle of March is no reason to panic.

"Not yet. If it's still like this in a few weeks, I'll start to worry, but not quite yet," John Binkley of Equinox Community Farm says.

For more information on CSA Fairshare, visit

To see the Dane County Farmer's Market Calendar visit

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