Good fresh chiles are available at Mexican grocery stores. I'm in a Milwaukee suburb, and the El Rey stores are great for chiles, fresh masa, all kinds of stuff. You need the dried chiles for the paste. I think I've done things the same way each time I've gone through the paste process, so instead of blaming myself for the blandness or overspiciness of the paste, I blame the chiles, LOL. Penzey's sells some great looking dried chiles for about five times the price of El Rey, so I've never tried those. I could spice things up with chili powders, but I like to try and do it with only salt, pepper, and cumin as dry ingredients.
It may be possible to dry your own, but I've seen it on the Food Network, and it was being done on the roofs of buildings in New Mexico in blazing heat. I have to give credit to a Rick Bayless cookbook on this idea. It's basically an adapted guajillo sauce. The dry chiles have a whole different flavor. It's the frying that really makes them zing, and takes out the bitterness that you'll sometimes come across in a Mexican restaurant.
I love the Madison farmer's market. I have a pastry chef friend from Sun Prairie that sold her organic creations there. Now she's back in school, so I think that's on hold.
By the way, it's only been a few days, but I've really enjoyed this site. Bigwheel and I would get along just fine, that I can tell. My posts can sometimes ramble, so I ask forgiveness in advance until I learn the language of a food forum. I apologize if I hijacked the original poster's thread.