Congrats to the 6th Annual Local Hero Award Winners!

Notable Edibles Spring 2017 Issue

Congrats to the 6th Annual Local Hero Award Winners!

By Wendy Allen | Photos By Various 0

The people’s choice Local Hero Awards are a wonderful opportunity for you, our readers, to recognize the people, businesses and organizations that make our Southern Wisconsin region an amazing place in which to live—and eat! Congratulations to all the awardees, and thank you for the hard work you’ve put into making our local food system sustainable and delicious. 

Awardees will be recognized at an awards reception, and on behalf of each recipient, Edible Madison will make a donation to a non-profit organization of the recipient’s choice.


Kriss & Shannon Marion, Circle M Market Farm

Blanchardville |

photo by Sarah Anna Hansen

Kriss is the full-time farmer at Circle M Market Farm, but she says there would be no CSA without Shannon’s carpentry skills and their hard-working crew. The Marions have seen first-hand how animals are part of the cycle of healing the land. They rotate pigs through their garden patches, and they nurture steers, sheep, ducks and chickens as well. Committed to encouraging future farmers, they teach organic farming and homesteading workshops and offer farm stays, where guests can be immersed in the daily rhythms of the farm. You can read more about Circle M Market Farm on our website at view/soil-sisters-kriss-marion.

You Said: “She works tirelessly advocating for family farms and earth-healthy policies in addition to running her own farm and bed and breakfast, as well as holding a seat on the Lafayette County Board. She is the founder of the farmers market in Blanchardville and the president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union South Central Chapter. She is a founding member of two bands: Moo Grass and Farmony. Basically, she's really cool.”

Food/Beverage Artisan

Anna Landmark & Anna Thomas Bates, Landmark Creamery

Albany |

photo provided by Landmark Creamery

Landmark Creamery crafts small-batch, seasonal, award-winning cheeses from the milk of cows, sheep and water buffalo. In 2013, Anna Landmark was so inspired by the American Cheese Society conference that two weeks later she quit her job to take the leap into fulltime cheesemaking. Anna Thomas Bates, a local food writer and sustainable foods advocate, provides the marketing and sales (and is official taste-tester). The pair also engage their community through the South Central Women in Sustainable Agriculture group. “We’re a bit nomadic,” says Anna Thomas Bates. They currently live in Albany, make cheese in Darlington (south of Mineral Point), and age the cheese at Bear Valley near Richland Center. You can read more about Landmark Creamery in our spring 2014 issue and online at articles/view/landmark-creamery.

You Said: “Their business has grown to consume them while we consume their cheese. This year they were the first women ever to be part of Cheese Days in Monroe, Wisconsin! Thank you, Anna and Anna!”


Jeff Gauger, Beans ’n Cream Coffeehouse

Sun Prairie |

Photo provided by Beans 'n Cream Coffeehouse

“Community” is a cornerstone value of Beans ’n Cream Coffeehouse in Sun Prairie. Their coffees are roasted locally and many options are organic and/or fair trade. They have a close relationship with Sassy Cow Creamery, just up the road, which provides the shop’s milk, cream and ice cream, and Vitruvian Farm and Emerald Meadows, which provide local, organic produce. Located in a historic building downtown, the shop also connects with the community through a menu filled with delicious dishes that have names inspired by Sun Prairie’s colorful history.

You Said: “Jeff is an amazing part of the Sun Prairie community. He donates his time and effort to the area school district. He recognizes the importance of small business, encouraging patrons to visit other local businesses. … Jeff's attention to detail is awesome, but his attention to the individual is what makes him a perfect candidate for the Local Hero Award. And on a side note, his Honey Lavender Latte is legen...wait for it....dairy.”

Food Shop

Viroqua Food Co-op

Viroqua |

Photo provided by Viroqua Food Co-op

The Viroqua Food Co-op is a thriving natural foods cooperative that has, over the past 21-plus years, grown from humble beginnings as a simple buying club into a store and deli with more than 3,600 owners and 70 employees. The store places a high value on sourcing local and organic products, supporting more than 175 local growers and food producers. The co-op also sponsors educational events and donates to local organizations; notably, the second Wednesday of each month is One Percent Wednesday, when the store donates one percent of the store’s gross sales to a non-profit organization selected by the membership. Readers also honored VFC with a Local Hero Award in 2014.

YOU SAID: “Local, organic, sustainable, small town. Everything you need. How do they do it?”


REAP Food Group

Madison |

Photo provided by REAP Food Group

Founded in 1997, REAP Food Group has been working throughout Southern Wisconsin to build and sustain a local food system that supports small family farms and locally owned businesses, promotes sustainable agriculture, and provides access to fresh, healthy food for the entire community. Their multifaceted Farm to School program, encompassing a snack program, Chef in the Classroom, AmeriCorps volunteers and educational events, has been influential in the Madison Metropolitan School District. Other programs include Buy Fresh Buy Local, the Southern Wisconsin Farm Fresh Atlas and a number of popular fundraiser events in Madison such as Burgers and Brew and Pie Palooza. Readers also honored REAP with a Local Hero Award in 2013.

YOU SAID: “Thank you for making so much progress with the Madison school district in getting local vegetables into kids’ mouths.”

Thank you to our Local Hero Award Sponsors: Heartland Credit Union and Organic Valley.

This online version of the story has been updated from the print version to reflect the farms Beans 'n Cream Coffeehouse currently works with and to update information about Viroqua Food Co-op.

Wendy Allen is digital editor, copy editor, and a writer for Edible Madison. She reads style guides for fun, believes stories have power, and is fascinated by the evolution of the English languageā€”for better or worse. Her mission: to wrestle the wily comma into submission.

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