Cilantro from West Star Organics in Cottage Grove.
A new Madison farmers’ market is only as far away as your keyboard. Square Harvest offers online ordering, with purchases delivered to your door.
“I’m a big foodie,” explains Madhavi Krishnan, who co-founded the business with her husband, Karthikeyan Sankaralingam. “I’m very passionate about good food,” she says. “When I had my son a few years ago it became even more important. Very soon I realized that good nutrition comes from close to home.”
Krishnan and Sankaralingam are both computer scientists. She’s worked at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Epic Systems. He’s an associate professor at the UW computer science department. They share a joint mission.
“We think local food should be accessible to all, and it should be easy to access,” she says. “I think it’s ironic that we go to Mexico and California for produce that’s available in Wisconsin. I want to change that.”
For Krishnan, it was the perfect wedding of her technical skills and interest in organic shopping. “I started with the farmers and vendors that I knew and had been shopping with,” she says. Madisonians will recognize many of the names: Crossroads Community Farms, Canopy Gardens, Garden to Be, among others, for vegetables; Dream Farm and Hickory Hill Farm for eggs; Jordandal Farms for meats; the Summer Kitchen for jams and jellies; and even the Good Food cart for prepared soups.
Krishnan launched a pilot version of Square Harvest a month ago, with vegetables, dairy, bakery, fish and meat, various pantry items and more. When the site officially opened the last week of March, she already had around 130 clients.
“We are adding vendors every week, and vendors are reaching out to me, too, which is very exciting.”
Customers add items to their cart during the week; delivery is once a week on Saturday. Delivery is free for Madison, Middleton, and Fitchburg; Verona and Monona have a $3 delivery fee and DeForest, McFarland, Cottage Grove and Sun Prairie a $10 charge. You don’t need to be home to accept the order but they ask that you leave a cooler outside for it. The minimum order is $25.
The idea of an online farmers’ market has been around for a while; Milwaukee-based Brewers Organics is three and a half years old and expanded into Madison last fall. “Organic produce has always been pretty important to me and my family,” says Amanda Ferguson, who co-owns the business with her husband, Brandon.
Deliveries come in boxes sized from standard ($35) to large ($57); Madison-area delivery is on Thursday. Ferguson estimates that they have around 60 Madison clients.
“Our cheese comes from the Madison area, and our eggs come from pretty close to the Madison area, too,” she says. Other vendors come from closer to Milwaukee.