Mount Pleasant Farmers' Market to celebrate 40 years of supporting local farmers
For 40 years, the Mount Pleasant Farmers' Market has given an avenue for local farmers to sell fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables to eager residents.
The Farmers' Market opens at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday in Island Park. As an important support network for area farmers, the market promotes nutritious lifestyles and organic alternatives to juggernaut grocery chains.
"When you go to a grocery store, you don't get that kind of face-to-face interaction," said Market Manager Carol Moody. "(Customers) can talk to the farmers who grew it, and they're able to ask specific questions about how it was grown. It makes it more of a fun experience."
The Farmers' Market is open for business on Thursdays and Saturdays from June until October. The Saturday market is located at City Hall, 320 W. Broadway St.
Moody said the Thursday market expanded its space to support 26 vendors this year, while the Saturday market features eight. Items sold at the markets extend beyond foodstuffs to homemade goods and crafts, giving patrons an opportunity to purchase local products.
Everything from lip balm and soaps, to baked goods and grains – even coffee beans – are on sale at the market.
"It's a big community event," Moody said. "A few years ago, we did a needs assessment through Parks and Recreation and our top participated activity, over youth sports and everything, was the Farmers' Market. People bring their whole family, there is something for everyone."
New to the market this season is the expansion of its food assistance programs.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients can now use their Michigan Bridge Card at the market. The market also collaborates with Double Up Food Bucks, a program that gives customers using a SNAP Bridge Card the ability to have any money spent at the store matched up to $20.
Double Up Food Bucks effectively doubles the buying power of families in need, giving them an extra $20 they wouldn't get at the grocery store.
Mount Pleasant is a member of the Michigan Farmers' Market Association, an organization founded in 2006 to work with farmers and market organizers in communities across the state to create a thriving market for local food and farm products.
Amanda Shreve, manager of programs and partnerships for the Michigan Farmers' Market Association, said the number of markets in the state has increased from 90 to over 300 since 2006.
"I think in Michigan there are a couple of different things responsible (for the growth of farmers' markets)," Shreve said. "(We are) the second-most agriculturally diverse state in country, aside from California, and grow the second-widest variety of fruits and vegetables. Then there's a growing interest from consumers in knowing where their food comes from."
While there are traditional markets that have been in operation for over a hundred years, Shreve added, including many in southeast Michigan, there is a large population of markets that have sprung up over the past five years.
Visit cm-life.com for more stories on Michigan agriculture and the Mount Pleasant Farmers' Market.