The small village of greenhouses that makes up Kopke's Fruit of the Bloom is located in the town of Dunn less than a dozen miles south of the Capitol, a relatively short distance for vendors at the also sells its plants at the downtown market on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. on Wednesdays and the West Side Community Market on Saturdays. This seasonal business remains open until the plants are sold out in mid- to late July.
Gordon Kopke spoke to The Daily Page about his Fruit of the Bloom and the market.
The Daily Page: How did you become a farmers' market vendor?
In the late '70s, I became tired of covering the Earth with concrete and wanted to do something a little nobler with my life. I became involved with alternative energy systems, selling and installing wind generators and solar water heaters. When Reagan was elected to the presidency in 1980, the Department of Energy turned it's back on independence and focused on giving tax breaks to the oil industry -- I believe that had we continued along the path of alternative energy, we would not be mired in the sands of the Middle East today. Many of us in the alternative energy field found ourselves looking for a new occupation. I turned to the earth as a source of my toils and started growing vegetables. Eventually I ended up growing everything from ageratum to zinnias.
My first year at the Dane County Farmers' Market was in 1981, selling wild black raspberries. I built my first greenhouse in 1982, and at one time grew 25 acres of produce, thus the name Kopke's Fruit of yhe Bloom, before evolving into flowers and plants.
What else do you offer through the summer season?
Annual and perennial bedding plants, as well as hanging baskets.
What's your most popular product?
Our hanging baskets. We grow around 15,000 annually.
What's your favorite product elsewhere at the market?
My tastes are diversified, and I try to spread my dollars around the market. I do have a weakness for the Amish Cashew Brittle.
What's your pre-packaged, supermarket-shelved guilty pleasure?
Hmmm, smoked salmon is almost a daily staple in my diet. And I love Craisins, the dried cranberries -- especially the cherry flavored variety.