Local family ensures farmers market has place to stay for years to come
A beautiful sunny day greeted dignitaries and guests as they gathered on June 23 for the official opening of New Berlin’s permanent farmers market location. Anchored by a fashionable yet simple open-air structure, the farmers market has a home it can truly be proud of.
New Berlin, a growing community of approximately 39,000 just west of Milwaukee, has hosted a farmers market since 1996. The market has bounced around locations, most recently taking advantage of a parking lot at the city’s municipal building on W. National Avenue.
Discussions for a permanent location began in earnest in 2016. Among the key players was the New Berlin Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. Touting the sense of pride and togetherness that is the foundation of the chamber, Executive Director Ed Holpfer said, “This new structure will further that sense of community.”
Major credit belongs to Joe and Becky Sanfelippo. They donated land and paid for the open-air structure. The Sanfelipo family has deep ties to New Berlin. His father’s sod and Christmas tree business has been operating in the city for 65 years. (Joe, a member of the Wisconsin Assembly, has owned a landscaping business for 25 years.)
Joe Sanfelippo for years ran a Christmas tree and fresh cut flower business out of this location, which was a vacant lot. Desiring a permanent structure, Sanfelippo approached the city with an offer: He’d put up a building and let the farmers market and other city concerns use the facility.
Of the land he donated, one section is used for the farmers market; another will become a small park with a pergola. (Sanfelippo built a gas station/convenience store on the remaining portion.)
Mayor Dave Ament, right, thanked the Common Council for all the support they provided. Then he offered special praise for Joe and Becky Sanfelippo. “This [structure] would not be here without them. This was their project.”
Later, Ament disclosed that the Chamber of Commerce had been chosen as the business of the month for July. Here he presents the certificate to Gary Szapara, president of the New Berlin Chamber of Commerce. Szpara praised the new location, saying it will provide more exposure and greater accessibility for the farmers market. “I’d like to thank [Joe and Becky Sanfelippo ] for their gracious contribution,” he said.
Covering 2,700 square feet, this is a wood timber framing project, according to Jim Worthington of 12 Gauge Construction, LLC. In an email, Worthington said that wood, which appears bare, has been stained to help protect against the elements. Even so, he suggests a follow-up treatment of stain or sealer every two to three years. “[This] is a 20 year structure,” he said.
His crews worked under a fast-paced schedule, Worthington said. On top of that, southeast Wisconsin endured a fairly wet spring. Completing a project under those conditions was challenging but fun.
This being a ribbon-cutting event, there had to be a ribbon cutting. Becky Sanfelippo had the honors. Assisting her is Mayor Ament. Looking on are chamber board members, local business people and even Miss New Berlin, Jaime Watkins.
Calling it a “long, complicated project with lots of moving pieces,” Sanfelippo added that, “we hope that the community is able to occupy this property for a long time to come.”
Interviewed later, Sanfelippo stressed the community aspect of his project. “It’s a nice way to give back to the community,” he said. When asked about the building’s design, he said he wanted a rustic appearance but one that fit in with Downtown New Berlin. “I think the architect nailed it with the look.”
New Berlin’s farmers market is at 15055 W. National Ave. Look for the distinctive A-shaped building with the brown steel roof. The market is open from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday through October. Free parking is available on city streets, as well as at the library about a block to the west. Stop by sometime and stock up on locally grown flowers, plants and vegetables, homemade baked goods, and fresh meat sourced from area farms.
The new structure really helps showcase not only the farmers market, but New Berlin’s City Center as well. It will serve the city well for years to come.
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New Berlin, Wisconsin