Q: When is the Market open?
A: The Market is open every Wednesday and Saturday, May through October, regardless of holidays, from 7 a.m. until Noon. Some food trucks and vendors do stay until 1 p.m. if they are not already sold out.
Q: Who operates the Market?
A: The Market is a program of the Midland Area Chamber of Commerce which is a private, non-profit organization that is funded by dues-paying members and our subsidiary company. We hold a signed agreement for May-October with the City of Midland for exclusive use of the current space near the Tridge to operate a farmers market.
Q: Help! There is never a place to park!
A: Parking is definitely tough during the busy hours of the Market. If you take Ann Street behind the H Hotel and Courthouse, you will find additional parking on most days. Feel free to take the grass shortcut to Market. Sometimes the Market does spill over into one parking area. Because of this, we asked the city to create three extra handicapped parking places in that same parking lot. There are several other handicapped parking spaces around the exterior of the circle. If you are shopping with a friend that cannot walk far, feel free to drop them off at any one of the Market entrances. There are many places to rest in the shade while they wait for you to park the car.
Q: Why is the farmers market so expensive?
A: Some items can be more expensive than what you’d find at the grocery store, however some are not. The farmers market is not meant to be inexpensive, its purpose is to bring you items from local farmers and businesses. Most of the produce at market was picked when it was ripe, as opposed to some items you can get in a grocery store that were picked well before they were ripe so they could make the trip to our state.
Q: Why does Wolverine Bank have a booth there?
A: Wolverine Bank is our partner in offering the technology and staffing to operate the system that allows you to use your debit, credit or Bridge card at the market. They also administer the SNAP benefits that now work in conjunction with the Double Up Food Bucks program that gives much more access to those needing food assistance. Double Up Food Bucks is a program that allows those with SNAP benefits to get additional money to spend on Michigan-grown produce. It is a win-win for both our customers and our Michigan farmers. This operates at no fee to customers and vendors.
Q: Why aren’t you open more days/times?
A: Scheduling is a hard thing when it comes to markets. We have to take into account a few factors: what times/days are other nearby markets open, how many of our vendors attend other markets that would conflict, do they have the staff available to operate a stall more days/time a week and do they have enough employees to pick produce on an expanded schedule. We have been discussing hour changes for quite some time, but it is a decision we put a lot of thought and research into. Gathering 50-70 independent farmers and businesses on a regular basis is no small task.
Q: Are there rules what can be sold?
A: Yes. We have turned down many, many vendors over the past few years because they do not fit our criteria of what’s allowable at our market. We have made a conscious effort to diversify our market to be sure it continues to be successful well in the future. For many years we did not allow meat or eggs, now those are two of our most popular items. We allowed the soap vendors on a trial basis, with a limit of how many there could be. They have become so overwhelmingly popular with customers, they are now a regular part the market. The guidelines we operate by are that we seek to keep the market with edible and consumable items, with preference placed on locally grown, made or baked items of artisan quality.
Q: Why are there soap vendors?
A: A few years ago, we had a local soap maker approach us to ask for a stall. He used local ingredients from some of our other vendors (like herbs and flowers), and made everything locally. Our hope was to help the market grow, especially in the non-produce season, so we allowed him in on a trial basis. The popularity of the soap skyrocketed with customers and now we have a restriction of no more than three soap vendors.
Q: Why are there other non-produce vendors?
A: There are many reasons why we have non-produce vendors, but first and foremost is that there are many customers who really like getting these products from local people. We started to allow most of these kind of vendors on Wednesdays, because Wednesday’s were becoming light in vendors due to the overwhelming popularity of Saturday. Some of them then became so popular, customers started wanting to buy from them on Saturday’s as well.
Q: Why do you allow wholesale produce?
A: We try to keep wholesale produce to a minimum, and we encourage those who do, to buy from Michigan vendors or to bring items that are popular so shoppers don’t have to make a second stop on the way home from market, where produce would not like to sit in a hot car. We ask that all wholesalers mark where their produce is from and we give them a sign to hang in their stall that indicates they have wholesale produce. Growing produce in hot houses is only just beginning here, which is why some vendors choose to buy from those that do it in other parts of the state in order to have early produce, or to supplement for produce they may have lost in their own fields for various reason.
Vendor Breakdown – many vendors sell multiple categories, but this represents a general overview.
Midland County –
Produce Sellers – 10
Baked Goods – 11 (one is a young entrepreneur)
Wholesale – 1
Plants – 4
Meat - 4
One of each: Jam, spice blends (young entrepreneur), honey, tea, homemade roasted coffee (young entrepreneur), soap, farm-pressed oils (from Sanford)
Bay County –
Produce Sellers – 8
Baked Goods – 2
Plants – 4
One of each: honey, salsa
Other Surrounding Counties (Isabella, Saginaw, Clare, etc…)
Produce Sellers – 13 (Christofferson Farms from Ludington comes the farthest…they are the “tree-ripened fruit” or the “peach people”)
Baked Goods – 6
Wholesale – 4
Plants – 4
Maple Syrup – 2
Soap - 3
One of each: Meat, jam, dried pasta, tea, cheese, fish, kettle corn, kombucha, wine, natural organic lotions, locally roasted coffee beans, sauces
Q: Why are you considering moving the Market?
A: The Midland Area Chamber of Commerce manages the Market. The people responsible for studying the possibility of a new market are from a group called Momentum Midland (www.momentum-midland.org). We have been involved, along with vendors and customers, providing input since this was first brought up by the Michigan Municipal League after the City was awarded a grant for Placemaking (placemaking.mml.org/place-plans). We do have some fairly serious problems with the current structure that cannot be fixed due the fact that the building sits in a floodplain and is landlocked. At this point, the proposal has been cancelled by the Momentum Midland group. For more information, contact Momentum Midland at www.momentum-midland.org or (989) 837-1222.
Q: Why would we want a year round market?
A: We do have several vendors that could sell at a year round market: meat, cheese, baked goods, jam and some of our produce vendors do have produce outside of the May-October time frame (pumpkins, potatoes, apples, just to name a few). Some Michigan farms do grow in hot houses, which helps to have early/late produce. Some of our small restaurant/food trucks have expressed interest in being a part of the indoor area. As the proposal has now been cancelled by Momentum Midland, we will continue to look forward to the possibility of a new market in the future.
Q: Where is the best place to find out more information about the Market?
A: You can visit our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/midlandfarmersmarket), contact the Chamber of Commerce (989-839-9901) or look for the Market Master on-site (Stephanie – 989-948-0071).