The Midland Area Farmers Market is back and bustling

The Midland Area Farmers Market is back and stronger than ever this season, returning on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m.–1 p.m. 

On opening day, Saturday, May 1, there were 37 vendors and about 2600 customers. 

On opening day, Saturday, May 1, there were 37 vendors and about 2600 customers.“I think [these are] the biggest numbers we’ve seen on opening day,” says Midland Area Farmers Market Master Stephanie Frye, reflecting on her six past seasons as Market Master.

There will be a total of about 90 vendors coming and going throughout the season, which runs through November.

“We have actually quite a few new vendors — [the] most that we’ve had in probably the last three or four years,” says Frye. Over the course of the season, the market will see new produce vendors and new meat vendors, all local to the area. Also new to the market this season is a vendor who exclusively sells mushrooms, Tri-City Mushrooms. 

Like last year, the market will be held in the Dow Diamond East Parking Lot for the 2021 season.

“We have excellent parking, wonderful space so we can accommodate COVID restrictions and give everyone a lot of room to move around,” says Frye. The market is completely enclosed with gates, so volunteers are able to monitor the number of customers in the space. 

Because the lot is so spacious, live, local entertainment will be at the market every Wednesday and Saturday. There will also be picnic tables, set up at least 6 feet apart. Volunteers will sanitize the tables regularly.

The Market maintains high standards for COVID-19 safety, including encouraging guests to wear masks and requiring vendors to wear them.Other COVID-19 considerations include hand washing and sanitizing stations, routine sanitization in high-touch areas, and signage encouraging guests to wear masks. Vendors will be required to wear masks regardless of state orders until there is no longer a need for masks. 

“[We’re] keeping up the standards right at the tippy-top; we haven’t sacrificed those standards one little bit,” says Frye.

In partnership with Isabella Bank and the community, the Market is also able to accommodate WIC and EBT so that everyone can have access to fresh, locally grown produce.

“Our market is such a bustling place and Midland is such a great support system,” says Frye. “The Tri-Cities are great for supporting farmers markets.”

Because the lot is so spacious, live, local entertainment will be at the market every Wednesday and Saturday.A community hub since the 1860s

“I’ve got vendors that their great grandparents used to come with them, and they’re still vendors today,” says Frye. 

The original market location by the Tridge was once the Larkin & Patrick Mill & Salt Block. As a logging mill, workers in the industry would gather there to move logs down the river.

“It was an iconic Midland area. It was a gathering place, is what it was known for,” says Frye. “Over time, when the seasons would come, farmers would load up their produce and go down there because it’s where the most people gathered.”

In 1973, the Dow Foundation sponsored the circular structure near the Tridge. Eventually, running the market was passed from the City of Midland, then to the Chamber of Commerce, which is now the Midland Business Alliance, who has been running it since the early 80s.

“Unfortunately because of the flood, that location is not conducive to us hosting the market right now,” says Frye. “We’re not ruling it out that that may be a place to go back to, I think it really just depends on the infrastructure situation — what the City or the Parks Department can get repaired in the area and see if it’ll be functional enough to host the Farmers Market.”

Even with all the challenges brought by 2020, many of the vendors had a booming year.

“We were down numbers, but yet people were so thrilled to buy locally and support the market that I’ve had vendors that’ve had some of the best seasons that they’ve ever had,” says Frye. “That’s overwhelming to me. It’s great, [and] it’s wild.”

In partnership with Isabella Bank and the community, the Market is also able to accommodate WIC and EBT so that everyone can have access to fresh, locally grown groceries.In 2021, that prosperity and sense of community continues.

“My favorite thing about the market is that it’s local people — they make and they’re growing local food for friends and families and neighbors. That’s what they do,” says Frye. “You work locally and you put the money into the Farmers Market, and it’s paying for somebody’s baseball shoes and dance tutu and violin lessons and coaching — it’s staying here, and that’s what it needs to do. We need to keep money here and show the impact that this market has on its community.”

Tune in to the Highway and Sunny 97.7 at 8:15 a.m. every Wednesday for live interviews about what’s happening at the Market. You can also find the Midland Area Farmers Market on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. 

Read more articles by Crystal Gwizdala.

Crystal Gwizdala grew up in the Tri-Cities and enjoys broadcasting all the positive change happening in Midland. As Assistant Editor for Catalyst Midland, her favorite topics are environment, wellness, mental health, and the arts. As a human, Crystal is a serial hobbyist: hiking, drawing, yoga, and playing music. Her work can be seen in The Detroit Free Press, Midland Daily News, and The Delta Collegiate. To see what Crystal’s up to, you can follow her on Twitter @CrystalGwizdala.
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