Preparing For Changes At Farmers Markets This Season

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It’s time for the return of area farm markets. At some it’s business as usual, at others change is in the air — while a couple are brand new.

In Traverse City, construction on Grandview Parkway is pushing the Sara Hardy Farmers Market to relocate for most of the season. During the National Cherry Festival, it will be at the Old Town Parking Deck. Post-festival, the market will move to Rotary Square at the corner of Union and State streets through October.

As in previous years, the market will take place Saturdays 7:30am-noon and Wednesdays 8am-noon beginning in June.

The environmental and education non-profit SEEDS will again be overseeing the market, which has grown from fewer than ten vendors when it started in 1984 to one of the largest in the state. Kyle Warner, the farmers market manager for SEEDS, says the move will be challenging, but he anticipates business will remain strong. He says there will be some new faces among vendors, and he believes the move will also attract some new attendees as well. “Traverse City is a strong community. Rotary Square is a downtown location and closer to some neighborhoods.

“You always hope for a smooth transition,” Warner continues, though he acknowledges the move is causing some trepidation. “There are a number of vendors that are excited, and others that are nervous.”

Jennifer Flynn, the EcoCorps Program Director for SEEDS, says there will be a SEEDS outreach table about composting and Carter’s Compost will be a vendor, where attendees can drop off their compostables. There will also be food navigators on hand Saturdays to assist with those using programs such as Munson’s Prescription for Health, SNAP and Bridge. There will also be a nutritional educator in attendance on Wednesdays. 

At the Interlochen Farmers Market, the Sunday morning market is so popular that space for attendees has become an issue. “We had an overflowing parking lot,” says owner and market master Hannelore Frederick, with people parking on the street and even at Tom’s Market across the street.

The solution: adding another day. Frederick hopes the upcoming Thursday event running 2pm-7pm will mitigate that. “We have room for 60-plus (vendors) on Thursday, and have 40 signed up now,” she says. Sundays remain steady at 70. Frederick says the two markets will feature mostly different vendors. “The cool thing is it’s a completely different market. The most overlap will be in produce.”

Also new this year is the East Bay Corners Farmers Market, part of a planned “food security incubator.” The farmers market takes place Thursdays 3pm-7pm through October at East Bay Township Hall. Township residents cited the need for a Farmers Market and Community Garden in the township’s master plan and its parks and recreation plan. Beyond providing locally grown produce and goods to shoppers, its goals include promoting local agriculture and agriculturally-based businesses and creating both a community gathering space and an agribusiness incubator.

Elsewhere in Grand Traverse County, the Kingsley Market will take place 3pm-7pm Wednesday nights at Brownson Park, with free community workshops and live music 5pm-7pm. The Village at Grand Traverse Commons will continue to host its weekly market on Mondays 2pm-6pm on the piazza between Cottageview Drive and Red Drive.

In Benzie County, locals are celebrating the return of the Honor farm market. Julie Bensinger saw an article asking if anyone was interested in reviving and running it. “I decided to give it a try,” she says. Unlike the previous iteration, which was more of a flea market, the Honor Farmers, Artists and Makers Market will focus on foodstuffs and handmade goods. It will take place at Maley Park on US31 in the village across from the plaza with the Secretary of State office. It will run Tuesdays 9am-2pm June 4 through Sept. 3.

Manager Laural Wayna says upward of 100 vendors typically populate the Frankfort Farmers Market, located in the Open Space Park on Main Street. It takes place Saturdays 9am-1pm. Across Betsie Bay, the Elberta Farmers Market operates Thursdays 8am-noon, with live music 10am-noon.

Most every community in Leelanau County holds a market: Glen Arbor on Tuesdays 9am-1pm behind the Glen Arbor Township Hall; Leland on Thursday 9am-1pm at the Immanuel Lutheran Church parking lot; Northport Fridays 9am-1pm across from the marina; Suttons Bay Saturdays 9am-1pm on St. Joseph St. at the north end of the village; and in Empire Saturdays 9am-1pm next to the post office.

New in Leelanau is the Lively NeighborFood Market on M-72 east of Empire. Originally slated to open Memorial Day weekend, owner Jim Lively says delays have pushed that back to a new target date of June 8.

Lively says the goals are to provide area farms another outlet and give those in the nearby communities access to fresh produce and prepared foods year-round. “If something doesn’t sell Saturday at Empire, they can bring it here,” he says. It will offer shelf-stable goods as well as farm-fresh meat and produce from farms across the area, including daughter Jane’s farm on the same property. The catering company Mel and Fell will operate in the commercial kitchen, and will offer a variety of fresh prepared foods.



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