Wisconsin Cheeses Compete to be the Big Cheese of Willy Street Co-Op

The Willy Street Co-Op is hosting their Fourth Annual Cheese Challenge, where 32 local cheeses compete to be the official “Big Cheese.”
Putting an edible spin on March Madness, Willy Street Co-Op customers are asked to fill out brackets predicting the winners of each round. The individual who is closed to predicting the actual results will receive eight pounds of cheese, one pound from each of the “Edible Eight” finalists. Although brackets were due March 14th, Willy Street invites customers to come in every Thursday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. to sample cheeses and vote for their favorites. The contest continues until April 1st. The 2017 winner of the challenge was Extra Innings Triple Play from Hook’s Cheese Company, which is a blend of cow, sheep and goat milk that is aged over a year.

Competitive Year for 2018 SEED Grant Finalists

On Monday, the Madison Food Policy Council (MFPC) gathered at the Central Library to meet individually with the 2018 SEED Grant finalists. Each finalist was granted 15 minutes to present their projects on how to increase healthy food access or education for City of Madison residents. This year, the SEED Grant program received 23 applications requesting a total of over $180,000 in funding. The MPFC winnowed the list down to 13 finalists, but the grant can only allocate up to $50,000 in funding with a maximum of $10,000 for a single grant. George Reistad, food policy coordinator, says the funding is limited but there is no set amount in terms of how many organizations receive grant funding.

March 2018 Backyard Heroes

Community Shares, a partner of Madison Commons, recognizes two volunteers each month. The volunteers come from Community Shares' member groups and are selected for their service to the community and to community issues. Bill Herman, FairShare Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Coalition
Bill Herman volunteers at FairShare Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, to build strategic partnerships for Workplace CSA Programs. CSA is a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes the community’s farm, with growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. FairShare CSA Coalition has made CSA more accessible by linking people who care about the food they eat to local farmers who grow top-quality food for their local communities for over 20 years. Herman serves on the board of directors, develops key relationships and speaks at farm conferences.

Willy Street Co-op to Award $25,000 in Community Reinvestment Fund Grants

The Willy Street Co-op is currently accepting applications for grants from their Community Reinvestment Fund until Feb. 28 at 11:59 p.m.
This year, $25,000 in grants will be distributed to a variety of projects focused on improving food access, sustainable agriculture, community well-being, equity and more. Recipients must be 501(c)3 or cooperative organizations working on projects benefiting Dane County that have not previously been funded by the grant. According to Brendon Smith, Communications Director for the Willy Street Co-op, the number of grants given, and the amount of each, varies depending on the projects mentioned in the applications. Last year, 14 organizations received a total of $35,000 in funding from the Community Reinvestment Fund.

Madison Food Policy Council Releases New Food Access Improvement Map

The Madison Food Policy Council approved a new version of the Food Access Improvement Map in January, which shows areas in the City of Madison affected by food insecurity. The map highlights geographic locations with high average distances, or barriers to food outlets. The data was gathered using qualitative assessment since census tracts do not accurately reflect neighborhood-level variations in Dane County. Food Policy Council members charted the map in the summer of 2015 to help the Madison Food Policy Councildistribute grant funds through the Healthy Retail Access Program. “Since that time, the map has been updated to its current form and the MFPC is beginning to use it in other grant funding programs, with expansion of use to the City of Madison SEED Grants,” Food Policy Coordinator George Reistad said.

Madison Food Policy Council Launches 2018 SEED Grants Application

Potential applicants from the Madison community gathered at Meadowridge Library last Wednesday for an information session discussing the 2018 SEED grant application. For the fifth year, the Madison Food Policy Council will distribute $50,000 in grant funds to support projects that increase healthy food access for City of Madison residents. Proposals from organizations, groups or agencies devoted to improving the local food system will be considered, and the maximum of any one grant will be limited to $10,000. “Over the past four years this grant has been funded, there have been 39 grants funded with $200,000 total,” Food Policy Coordinator George Reistad said. The information session was well-attended, garnering nearly a dozen potential applicants from organizations like Community Groundworks, Independent Living, Inc., East Madison Community Center and Slow Food UW.

Going beyond the plate with Madison food tours


Diving into the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company’s Brat and Pretzel Burger felt like sinking teeth into a Wisconsin culinary history lesson. A juicy beef patty is topped with a savory bratwurst burger, smoked bacon and stout-caramelized onions. The pretzel bun was oozing with a luxurious layer of Wisconsin’s famed sharp cheddar, exuding a perfume of fragrant comfort. The burger tasted like a culinary representation of the state. Even the restaurant’s brick laden home was ensconced in a rich backstory: the Great Dane is nestled in the old Fess Hotel, a building on the National Register of Historic Places and a designated Madison landmark.

Wisconsin-made gift ideas for the holidays

Still looking for the right gift for your loved ones? Traveling over the holidays? Possibly leaving Wisconsin? Look no further. Here are ten amazing gifts ideas made in Wisconsin.

Media Digest November 1, 2017

Our weekly round up of headlines around Madison

Top Story

After the Roman Catholic bishop overseeing the Madison area last week issued guidance that suggested some gay people could be denied funeral rites, the community is circulating a national-attention-getting petition to have the bishop removed. Education

Wisconsin has the largest racial disparity in well-being between white children and black children. The future of school resource offers in Madison schools is being discussed halfway through the pilot program. Two Sun Prairie teachers established a scholarship fund for students to pursue engineering education, and they named the first recipient. Development

Grants will ensure the completion of a Madison College campus expansion by 2019.

Willy Street Co-op aims to help small vendors with monthly program

Willy Street Co-op launched a program in September to help small businesses market and improve their products. The Retail Ready Lab program debuted during the co-op’s Eat Local Month promotion. The program provides support from the co-op and customer feedback on products for local vendors for one month. General Merchandise Category Manager Angela Pohlman said in a press release that the program was inspired by vendors’ interest to appear on the co-op’s shelves but whose products or packaging needed further development. Throughout the month, staff at Willy Street meets with the vendors, gives them space in stores to advertise and hand out product samples to customers, and features them in the business’s magazine and social media.