21st Century Place: The Milwaukee Fondy Farmers Market Visioning Plan

Project Summary:

In the Fall of 2020, the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture Planning (DPLA) Workshop, led by assistant professor Edna Ledesma, will partner with the Fondy Farmers Market to study the Fond Du Lac and North Area in Milwaukee, WI to explore the potential upgrading of the market into a new city place. The subject matter is a live project for a historically underrepresented neighborhood in the city of Milwaukee, WI. Context includes the historic Fondy Farmers Market, the recently established Fondy Park, vacant sites, historic fabric, a major transit corridor, and green infrastructure. A key challenge of this partnership is how to conduct community-engaged research during the COVID pandemic.

The core purpose of this interdisciplinary workshop is to address social justice in the design of the 21st century American city. The workshop will therefore study potential transformations of the district as a catalyst for social and economic change, the role of placemaking, and the significant impact that access to healthy food and community assets have in addressing mobility, health, and economic development as an extension into the downtown and the wider city context. Collaboration with local stakeholders is integral to the workshop methodology to address a socially based urban design and planning strategy that is community driven.

Context and Study Area Map, Source: Market Analysis for the Fond Du Lac & North Area Plan, 2019


The Fondy Food Center connects Greater Milwaukee to local, fresh food – from farm to market to table – so that children learn better, adults live healthier, and communities celebrate cultural food traditions. From programs like Fondy Farmers Market on Milwaukee’s Northside to the Milwaukee County Winter Farmers Market to the Fondy Farm – Fondy’s projects work together to improve fresh, local food access for all Milwaukeeans while supporting small farmers.

The Fondy Farmers Market is a century old market and Milwaukee’s largest and most diverse farmers market, as well as the springboard for Fondy Food Center’s healthy food efforts. The open-air market creates space for the community—shoppers of all ages, organization representatives, artists, and performers—to connect with each other, and the more than 40 farmers and local food producers who sell at the Market from May through November. Tens of thousands of shoppers visit the market each year —primarily drawing from Milwaukee’s North Side, but welcoming visitors from across the region. Fondy is a nationally recognized leader in connecting low-income people with the benefits of farmers markets. It was the first market in the state to accept SNAP/EBT and offers the Market Match program -which doubles the produce purchasing power for shoppers using their federal nutrition benefits.

In 2017 the Fondy Farmers Market opened the Fondy Park next to the market, in partnership with the City of Milwaukee and several multi-sector partners. As this community asset looks to improve the rest of the historic property, the market has partnered with UW-Madison’s DPLA and the Kaufman Center for the Study of Food Systems to conceive of holistic visioning for the future of the market and the district. Currently, the market is also collaborating with UW-Milwaukee’s Community Design Solutions to begin this design process but aim to transition into the city planning approach through the UW-Madison partnership.

The Milwaukee Department of City Development along with Alderman Russell Stamper, II and community partners at the Dominican Center, Metcalfe Park Community Bridges, and Walnut Way are in the process of developing a new comprehensive plan for the neighborhoods surrounding Fond Du Lac and North Avenues. The new plan will build on recent local planning efforts to guide development in the area for the next 10-20 years.
Project Partners:

This workshop will build on the momentum of local grassroots organizations and work in partnership with community and UW Madison to address potential redevelopment schemes. Stakeholders include:

  • Fondy Center
  • Fondy Farmers Market
  • Fondy Park
  • City of Milwaukee
  • Kaufman Lab for the Study of Food Systems (UW-Madison)
  • ESRI

Workshop Aims:

The workshop aims to carry out comprehensive site survey work; establish values in design through criteria and diagrams; evolve scenarios of future outcomes as integral to the design process; develop a preferred plan and design that meets stated criteria; and addresses a competition format graphic presentation.

Students will be showing on a regular basis the development of their work in public meetings getting feedback from key stakeholders. This continuous evaluation from the public and professionals engaged in carrying out this project will allow students to approach city planning in a non-traditional classroom format. The workshop will work in teams but include individual projects, and it is open to graduate Urban and Regional Planning students and undergraduates in the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture program.