The Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) kicks off National Farmers Market Week from Aug. 1 through 7, with farmers markets across the state and country. Many of Michigan’s nearly 250 farmers markets will be hosting special events, activities and more to celebrate farmers and vendors, and express appreciation for volunteers and shoppers.
In the midst of a global pandemic, farmers markets — like all other small businesses — have innovated to continue operations for the farmers and communities that depend on them. Market managers have been at the forefront of adapting rapid solutions and innovating to protect staff, customers and the community.
When conventional food supply chains faltered at the start of the pandemic, farmers markets and local food systems clearly displayed the resiliency of short supply chains and interest in local foods spiked nationwide.
Pat Allen, the manager of the Fenton Farmers Market, said this year they have 23 seasonal vendors with six of them being produce vendors. They have 33 day-payer vendors, which sell all types of crafts, homemade signs, cheese vendor, baked goods. They also have one group in spot 21 that has crafts for kids and is providing community resources.
“We have all types of homemade items plus homemade honey,” Allen said.
When asked about the tone of this year’s farmers market, Allen said, “I’ve heard nothing but great reviews, in fact this year I’ve had more interest in potential vendors.
“This week alone I received four new vendors. My vendor base is up by 50%. I know last year was a rough year but it’s been probably five years since we’ve had this much interest.”
The Fenton Farmers Market, run by Southern Lakes Parks & Recreation, takes place Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m., rain or shine, in downtown Fenton on the lawn of the Fenton Community & Cultural Center during the Street Experience. It is a member of the MIFMA and follows its guidelines.
“2020 was not an easy year, but we know farmers, market managers, and MIFMA staff and board members are no strangers to hard work and overcoming challenges,” said Amanda Shreve, executive director of MIFMA. “As we celebrate 2021’s National Farmers Market Week, we’ve already seen the strength, resiliency and hope we share as a farmers market community, and know our markets will continue to positively impact their communities long beyond this week.”
Diana Regan, marketing manager and produce vendor for the Holly Farmers Market said Patty Roeske of Roeske Farms will be having summer squash, potatoes, onions, watermelon, winter squash and pumpkins coming up. “They have been working very hard in their field in Hartland to bring their fresh produce each week. Also they have farm fresh eggs and pork, chicken, and turkeys raised on their farm,” Regan said.
Also in Holly, Diana’s Heirloom Produce will have blueberries, peaches, corn, cantaloupe, tomato, zucchini, candy onions, cucumbers, pickling cucumbers and much more. In the near future, watermelons, winter squash and heirloom pumpkins will be available.
Bass Root Farm has lettuce, kale, onions, zucchinis, cucumbers, tomatoes, and in the near future squash, eggplant, and pumpkins. Regan said this is their first year farming at the market it has been an exciting year for them.
Regan said, “The Holly Farmers Market has grown tremendously this year. Each week we have an average of 5-plus vendors.
The Holly Farmers Market runs Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., from May to Oct. 17 at Crapo Park in Holly.
In 2020 and continuing into the 2021 market season, Michigan markets adapted to keep customers safe, with more than 250 market managers, volunteers, vendors, and others participating in COVID-19 town hall webinars hosted by MIFMA. The town halls were just one example of the ways MIFMA staff helped markets respond to the pandemic and keep shoppers and vendors safe, totaling more than 550 hours of COVID response staff time invested.
Now, farmers markets are honoring another year of building resilience in their communities and bringing people together.
In Michigan, nearly 250 farmers markets serve their communities by increasing food access, often in areas where grocery options are scarce, and by supporting small businesses. In 2020 alone, 152 markets accepted SNAP Bridge Cards including 25 new sites, generating more than $1 million annually in farm revenue and creating access to nutritious fruits and vegetables for Michigan’s most vulnerable families.
“Farmers markets are a critical component of Michigan’s agricultural economy,” said Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell. “Demand for Michigan’s food and agricultural products has never been greater, and markets provide an opportunity for consumers to connect directly with those products, while supporting our state’s small businesses. The economic and community impacts are worth celebrating.”
“When we look at the new and growing roles our markets play in increasing food access, creating inclusive spaces for vendors and shoppers, and providing a place where communities can begin to safely reconnect, we certainly have much to celebrate,” Shreve said. “Michigan has long had a vibrant farmers market and agricultural community. National Farmers Market Week is one way to recognize and thank all those who come together around our state to manage and support markets.”
There are numerous farmers markets in the tri-county area affiliated with the MIFMA, including in Fenton, Grand Blanc and Flint in Genesee County, Hartland, Howell and Brighton in Livingston County and Brandon Township, Clarkston, Highland Township, Pontiac, Rochester and more in Oakland County.
Want to visit a farmers market during National Farmers Market Week? MIFMA’s Find a Market tool helps shoppers search their local markets for days, times and locations to join in celebrating National Farmers Market Week, available at mifma.org.