It’s been quite some time since Abe last left his perch and stretched his legs at the Dane County Farmers’ Market (DCFM), but it’s still one of his favorite sights from atop Bascom. While it’s hard to know how many of the friendly vendors are grads of our great university without stopping at each stall on a Saturday morning (and Abe’s just not getting around like he used to anymore), a few names come to mind:
Ruby Cabibbo ’74 graduated from the UW–Madison School of Human Ecology and taught family and consumer science for 20 years at McFarland High School where her husband, Joe Cabibbo, taught physics. The two retired together in 2001 and reopened Cabibbo’s Bakery, which had originally been started by Joe’s parents in New Jersey. Cabibbo’s offers traditional Italian products like panettone and biscotti made from old-school family recipes. The Cabibbos applied to the Dane County Farmers’ Market waiting list in 2001, were admitted in 2004, and have been vending at the market ever since. Ruby says one of the best parts of the market is seeing former students and their parents who stop by their stall, in addition to the friendships fostered with customers and fellow vendors. “We feel proud to be baking authentic Italian specialties. We enjoy selling to customers who appreciate the time, effort, and quality ingredients we put into our products,” she says.
Green Barn Farm Market
Heather ’91 and Tom ’91 Bandt graduated from the UW with degrees in horticulture and dairy science, respectively. The two were married in 1992 and purchased their farm, Green Barn Farm Market, that same year. For the first seven years of their marriage, the Bandts raised 10 acres of vegetables and a small dairy herd. Today, they manage 100 acres of produce and 900 acres of field corn and soybeans. Heather is a long-time veteran of the Dane County Farmers’ Market, which she first began attending and vending at with her parents in the 1970s. Heather and Tom began selling their own produce at the market in 1992, the same year they started their farm. According to Heather, they never work quite as hard as they do getting ready on the Friday before the market and the Saturday spent vending at it. “We go to other farmers' markets, but the [Dane County Farmers’ Market] is the one I go to every Wednesday and Saturday,” Heather says. “My customers are loyal, kind, and generous, and it is my pleasure to grow produce for them!”
Burr Oak Gardens
Kate ’08 and Tyler ’08 Rowe graduated from the UW–Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in the middle of a recession, and at a time when jobs were scarce, especially in the horticulture industry. After little luck finding work, they created their own by starting their farm, Burr Oak Gardens, in 2010. The farm started off growing exclusively for their community-supported agriculture (CSA) members, who would sign up to receive a weekly box of preselected fresh produce from the farm throughout the growing season. In 2017, the farm switched from traditional CSA boxes to a “free-choice” CSA model in which people visit their farm or market stand and choose their own produce. It was around this time that they also applied to the Dane County Farmers’ Market (whose seven-year waiting period had lessened since the Rowes first inquired about joining in 2010), and Burr Oak Gardens will be making its debut at the market this coming season. “We always wanted to vend at the [Dane County Farmers’ Market] because of the importance to the Madison community and the sheer volume of people that attend, but until we made a shift in the focus of our farming endeavor from traditional CSA to the more pick-your-own model, it didn't seem like a worthwhile option to hang out on a wait list forever,” Kate said. “That being said, we are very excited to vend this year.”