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Harambee Neighborhood Resident Spearheads a New Farmer’s Market

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S Bence
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Glenn Mattison brings his own portable stool to the market site. He lives a few blocks away.

Milwaukee has no shortage of farmer’s markets from Brown Deer to Walker Square and multiple spots in between, yet Glenn Mattison believes there is room for one more.

This month the 5 Points Exchange Farmer’s Market is gradually coming to life Saturdays, although this Saturday’s market has been cancelled due to expected high temperatures.

Mattison says when he was growing up it was a vibrant commercial corridor “but as you see it now, it’s a nice residential area, but this particular intersection doesn’t have anything going except automobile traffic,” he says.

Mattison hopes a market as a way for community to come together and to spur economic development. “Hopefully to link the Martin Luther King corridor, or Brown Street corridor, down to Bronzeville and downtown,” he says.

Mattison says the farmer’s market idea just came to him – divine intervention “it just seemed like a natural fit. You have churches, you do have a number of things going on around here but they don’t seem to come together,” he says.

Mattison decided to funnel his post-retirement energies into the project. “Yeah, I worked for the City (of Milwaukee) all told for about 20 years, for the Common Council and in the end it was community organizing and crime-prevention initiatives,” he says.

Mattison hopes to recreate market experiences he had as a kid. Fresh produce was just part of the attraction.

“It was the fellowship and it was beautiful. There were always elders and little kids and everybody in between. They had baseball games over there and drum and bugle corps that would practice every Saturday. Everybody was out,” Mattison recalls.

Mattison says he found a few crticial partners to get the project going, starting with the Riverworks Development Corporation. “They’re the host, but I also have support from Teens Grow Greens and All Peoples Church is involved,” he says.

Traffic continuously rockets through this spot where streets including North Martin Luther King Drive and Keefe Avenue converge.

Mattison is confident drivers will be attracted to the new market. “They’re going to have to stop. We’ll make it attractive the them. That’s why I’m sure it will work out,” he says.

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Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.