Grab your tote bags, sun hats — and possibly pitchforks. Farmers market season has arrived in Greater Lansing. This summer’s run denotes the strength of smaller innovative markets like the Allen Neighborhood Center, the end of the Lansing City Market and the return of the once-banned Country Mill Orchard & Cider Mill to the East Lansing Farmers Market.
The Allen Neighborhood farmers market began in 2004, when the only other markets were the City Market and the Meridian Market, which has run for several decades.
“We had no idea what a neighborhood farmers market might look like, but we launched a pilot with four farmers for 10 weeks and we averaged 158 people every Wednesday. We thought we were onto something,” said Joan Nelson, executive director of the neighborhood center.
The market creatively connected with its community both by accepting a multitude of benefit programs and being readily accessible to a bus stop for those without personal transportation.
“We figured every liquor store on East Kalamazoo takes food stamps, surely this upstanding nonprofit should be able to take food stamps for farmers,” Nelson said. “We ended being the first farmers market in Michigan to be approved to take food stamps. We wanted it as accessible in every way as we could to everybody in this neighborhood.”
The market continues to innovate with its own take on meal delivery, a service that’s growing in popularity thanks to online services like Blue Apron. Allen’s Veggie Box program takes the “very best” from the available produce and packs it into a single box and delivers it to a subscriber. The program quickly grew to servicing 500 subscribers split between summer and fall.
Now to dig into the controversies. The City Market in its current state is all but facing the executioner’s ax after a City Council budget initiative eliminated half of its $80,000 subsidy. The money instead will go toward expanding the number of code compliance officers. The Council first appeared ready to cut the entire subsidy. But Mayor Andy Schor brokered a compromise that will keep the market running at least through the summer. The remaining vendors at the once flourishing farmers market are Waterfront Bar & Grill, LS Jewelry Designs & Florals, Shirley’s Bookshelf and River Town Adventures. Mainstay Hill’s Cheese pulled out last year.
“They don’t like to see a subsidy for a bar,” Schor said about the Council.
“Many years ago, this was the one place you could go to get your eggs and your vegetables and other things,” Schor said. “Now we have several other markets throughout the city that people go and get their farm-related products.”
As the inevitable date of closure approaches, the city must plan what to do with the leftover space. Will it be a revamped farmers market that goes back to its roots? Schor isn’t so sure.
“We’d like to have a grocery store downtown and we’re working on that. We have a South Lansing Farmers Market, we have an Eastside Farmers Market, so I think we have a lot of options right now in Lansing and do we need to create another? Probably not,” Schor said. “Just because it’s always been there, doesn’t mean that that’s the best use of that space.”
Waterfront Bar & Grill’s lease is up July 1, and Schor said the city will work with its owners in terms of landing a new location.
“I don’t mind having them in there through the end of the summer while we figure out what’s going to happen to that space. But, there is no legal guarantee of that until we sign some kind of a new contract, or until LEPFA signs some kind of a new contract,” Schor said, referring to the Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority, which operates the market.
What else is there to be said about Country Mill Orchard & Cider Mill? The orchard, which was first banned for refusing to host same-sex weddings, has been back at the East Lansing Farmers Market since last fall, after winning a preliminary injunction against the city.
Sunday’s market was visibly less intense than Country Mill’s first comeback in September 2017, which featured picket signs and heated squabbling. They didn’t seem to have a shortage of customers either.
East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows said the city did not appeal a federal court’s preliminary injunction in the case in part due to financial concerns, but also because “there was nothing really to appeal.” The case continues in federal court in Grand Rapids. Country Mill’s lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom and Meadows are at odds over the effect the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple will have on the litigation.
Market Selection Key:
(P) Produce, (O) Organic, (D) Dairy, (M) Meat, (FH) Fish, (PF) Prep ared Food, (C) Crafts, (DG) Dry Goods, (BG) Baked Goods, (IG) International Goods, (F) Flowers, (LM) Live Music, (A) Alcohol
Food Benefit Program Key:
(S) SNAP, (B) Bridge Card, (DU) Double Up, (WIC) WIC Project Fresh, (MF) Market Fresh
Allen Street Farmers Market
P, O, D, M, PF, C, DG, BG, IG, F, LM S, B, DU, WIC, MF
2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, year round (outdoor market June-October). Allen Market Place, 1611 E. Kalamazoo St., Lansing. (517) 999-3911, allenmarketplace.org/ farmers-market.
Andy T's Farmers Market
P, M, PF, C, DG, F, A, S, B, MF
8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Daily, year round. 3131 S. US Highway 27, St. Johns. (517) 543- 2681, www.andyts.com
Bath Farmers Market
P, PF, DG, BG, IG, F, LM S, B, DU, WIC, MF
Bellevue Farmers Market
P, D, PF, DG, BG, F, IG, LM, A S, B, DU, WIC
3 p.m to 6 p.m. Thursdays, year round (outdoor market June-October). James Couzens Memorial Park, 13751 Main St., Bath. (512) 809-4433, bathtownship.us.
3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays, June- September. Washington Park at Main Street and Mill Street, Bellevue. (269) 720-2279, battlecreekfarmersmarket.com.
Charlotte Artisans and Farmers Market
P, O, PF, C, BG, LM WIC
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. June-October. Eaton County Courhouse Square, 100 W. Lawrence Ave., Charlotte. (517) 543- 8853.
DeWitt Farmers Market
P, D, M, PF, C, DG, BG, IG, F, LM, A S, B
4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, June- October. McGuire Park, 1001 W. Main St., Dewitt. (517) 624-0284, dewittdda.org.
Dexter Farmers Market
P, O, D, M, PF, C, DG, BG, IG, F, S,
2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, 8 a.m to 1 p.m, Saturday June-October. 3233 Alpine St., Dexter. (734) 426-8303, www.dextermi.gov/farmers-market
Dimondale Farmers Market
P, M, PF, DG, BG, F, LM B, DU, WIC, MF
3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursdays, June- September; 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays in October. 136 N. Bridge St., Dimondale. (517) 646-0230, villageofdimondale.org/pages/farmersmarket.aspx.
Dowtown Owosso Farmers Market
P, O, D, M, PF, C, DG, BG, IG, F, S, MF, B, WIC
8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday. June- October. 3233 Alpine St., Dexter. (989) 413-3728, www.owossofarmersmarket.org
East Lansing Farmers Market
P, O, D, M, PF, DG, BG, IG, F, LM S, B, DU
10 a.m to 2 p.m. Sunday, June-October Valley Court Park, 280 Valley Court, East Lansing. (517) 319-6888, cityofeastlansing.com/farmersmarket.
Eastern Ingham Farmers Market
P, O, D, F, FH, PF, BG, S, DU, MF
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. June- October. McCormick Park, 123 High St., Williamston. (517) 525-5293. www.williamston-mi.us/ourcommunity/farmersmarket.aspx
Eaton Rapids Medical Center Farmers Market
P, O, C, DG, BG, F, LM S, B, DU, WIC, MF
3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, June-October. 1500 S. Main St., Eaton Rapids. (517) 663-9453, www.eatonrapidsmedicalcenter.org.
Farmers Markets at the Capitol
P, O, D, M, FH, PF, C, BG, IG, F S, B, DU, WIC, MF
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 26, Aug. 23 and Sept. 20 East Lawn of the Capitol Building, 100 N. Capitol Ave., Lansing. (517) 432-3381, www.mifma.org/fmatthecapitol
Grand Ledge Farmers Market
P, O, BG, C, M, PF, IG WIC
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June- October. 525 E. River St., Grand Ledge. (517) 643-1849, www.glfarm.org
Hartland Farmers Market
P, D, M, PF, C, DG, BG, F
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June- October. 10400 Highland Road, Hartland (810) 599-7603, www.hartlandchamber.org/ farmers-flea-market.html
Holt Farmers Market
P, D, M, PF, BG, C, IG, F, LM S, B,
DU, WIC, MF
2 to 6 p.m. Friday (mini-market), 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, year round (summer market June-November). 2150 S.
Cedar St., Holt. (517) 268-0024, www.holtfarmersmarket.org.
Howell Farmers Market
P, O, D, M, FH, PF, C, DG, BG, IG, F,
LM, B, DU, WIC
9 a.m.to 2 p.m. Sunday, June-October. Corner of State and Clinton streets, Howell. (517) 546-3920, www.howell.org./howells-sunday-farmers-market
Lansing Mobile Farmers Market
P, O, D, M, PF, C, DG, BG, IG, F, S, MF, DU Visit website/call for schedule and locations. (517) 999-2894, www.facebook.com/lansingmobilefarmmarket
Mason Area Farmers Market
P, O, D, M, FH, PF, C, DG, BG, F, LM
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. 100 block of East Maple Street, Mason. (517) 676- 4175. www.facebook.com/pg/masonfarmersmarketMI
Meridian Township Farmers Market
P, O, D, M, FH, PF, DG, BG, IG, F, LM S, B, DU, WIC, MF
8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Wednesdays, July-October. Central Park, 5151 Marsh Road, Okemos. (517) 712-2395, meridian.mi.us.
Open Air Market of Stockbridge
P, O, M, PF, C, DG, BG, IG, F, LM
4 to 7 p.m. Fridays, June-October. 125 S. Clinton St., Stockbridge. (517) 851- 7437, www.facebook.com/openairmarketofstockbridge
Old Red Mill Farmers Market
P, D, BG, F, C, O, M, DG,WIC
8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, June- October. Old Red Mill on Water Street, Portland.(517) 647- 6777, www.facebook.com/oldredmillfarmersmarket.
Peckham Farms Market
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, June-October. 5408 W. Grand River Ave., Lansing (517) 316-4050, www.peckhamfarms.org.
South Lansing Farmers Market
P, O, PF, M, D, C, BG, F, LM, S, B, WIC, DU, MF 3 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, June-October. If it is raining, the farmers market will move indoors. 800 W. Barnes Ave., Lansing. (517) 374-5700, southlansing.org
St. Johns Farmers Market
P, O, D, C, DG, BG, F, WIC
8 a.m.- noon Saturdays, June-October. Maple Street, downtown St. Johns. (989) 224-7863