“I Farm in Heels”: Exploring the South Madison Farmer’s Market

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by Nikki Francois, Contributing Writer

Shellie Pierce went from working in sales to working on the farm. But some things about her job remain the same: she treats her customers like family. Oh, and she still wears heels to work.

“I farm in heels,” Shellie laughs.  “My dad thinks I’m crazy, but it’s actually a great workout in the fields.”

Not only does Pierce spend her time farming fashionably, the Pierce family spends five days a week running the South Madison Farmer’s Market in various Madison locations. Instead of having a large market once a week with many vendors, the South Madison Famer’s Market fresh produce mostly comes from the Pierce’s own family farm. She has two tables filled with food that hold corn, crisp apples and of course ready-to-be-carved pumpkins.

“We’ve been feeding an entire community,” says Pierce. “Part of that community is students.”

But why should University of Wisconsin students head to these smaller farmer’s markets rather than the Dane County Farmer’s market on the square? For one, The South Madison Farmer’s Market is a more intimate community.

Regular customer Tobi Cawthra loves being able to talk to the farmers and establish lasting relationships with them. “Shellie talks to everybody,” Cawthra says while hugging Pierce.

Shellie also agrees that she loves to get to know her customers. “You’ll be family to me after coming a few times,” Shellie says with a smile. “Sometimes you just need other outlets to vent to somebody about life, and I’m there to talk.”

Another customer, Karen Loper, loves the closeness of the smaller market because she shows the vendors how she cooks the food they give her. She even brought dried watermelon that she had bought previously for everyone to try. In addition, Loper loves the ability to get produce efficiently without large crowds.

Cawthra says that buying healthy food can sometimes be time-consuming, and she does not have to deal with messy grocery stores when she goes to the South Madison Farmer’s Market.

Additionally, Pierce says they’re really trying to canvas how the South Madison Farmer’s market is an easy and affordable way to buy healthy food.

As for Pierce’s fashionable farming trend, it’s probably another reason why attending the South Madison Farmer’s Market is a great idea. She says she’s trying to put her best foot forward in all aspects of life, not just farming and community building. Fashion is just one way she likes to express her personality.

“Just be you,” she says.



Mondays: 2 p.m.-6 p.m. 2500 Rimrock Road

Tuesdays: 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Labor Temple Grounds on Park Street

Wednesdays: 3 p.m.-7 p.m. United Church of Christ on Gilbert Road

Fridays: 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Villager Mall on Park Street

Sundays: 11 a.m.-3 p.m Labor Temple Grounds on Park Street

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