The 2022 season of the Midland Area Farmers Market
is underway and will continue through November at the Dow Diamond east parking lot. The market opened this past Saturday, May 7. The goal of the market is to assist entrepreneurs and small businesses by offering them a place to sell their homemade and homegrown products.
Emily Lyons, manager of the Midland Area Farmers Market, speaks about its long-running tradition, “The Midland Area Farmers Market has been around for decades,” she says. “We have vendors who are in their seventies who have been coming to the market for decades.”
A variety of flowers are sold at the Farmers Market.
Like all social events and gatherings, COVID greatly impacted the way the market looks, as did the historic flood two years ago. “In 2020, we opened on time as a drive-thru only market, because the state was still shut down. We were doing the drive-thru at the original location, near the Tridge, until May 19 of 2020 when the dams broke. We had to take one day off, and then we relocated to the east parking lot of Dow Diamond, and have been there since.”
The market also aims to provide a way for budget shoppers of all ages, to get access to healthy, fresh, local fruits and vegetables. One of their partnering programs, Double Up Food Bucks
, helps stretch shopper’s dollars even further.
“Double Up Food Bucks is a grant we receive annually,” Lyons says. “If you’re purchasing $20 or more with your SNAP card, we can give you another $20 per market day, in being able to purchase Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables.”
Lyons says the market is able to provide numerous alternate currencies beyond just cash, thanks to their partnership with Isabella Bank. The market participates in a number of programs which provide some relief for those on food assistance. “For 2021, we had a total impact of $80,206 between EBT, double up food bucks, WIC Project Fresh, Senior Project Fresh, and RX for Health,” Lyons says.
When it comes to fan-favorites, Lyons says some popular local vendors
who are returning include Bright Farms (peas, beans, sunflowers), Carncross Sugarbush (maple syrup, candies ), Chernow Farms (potatoes), Cook’s Choice Produce (homemade noodles, eggs, produce, sweet corn). “One of every one’s favorite vendors, especially for plant material, comes out of Essexville,” Lyons says. “We will see From Buds to Blooms, with their large box-truck and their beautiful flowers return this year.”
Nate's Cart is one of the hot food vendors at the Farmers Market.
Although some vendors do make the trip from other cities, including the Grand Rapids Cheese People, and a new vendor, Mama C’s Gourmet Food Products, from Laingsburg/ greater Lansing area, Lyons says the majority of the vendors are from Saginaw, Midland, Bay, Isabella, and Gladwin counties.
The market is considered a consumables market, and it has specific guidelines and rules around the types of products, mainly edible, that it can sell. “We are trying to make sure we are supporting local and Michigan agriculture, and a lot of ingredients might not be from the area, or the United States,” Lyons says. “Soaps, body care products, and candles need to be handcrafted by using seasonal ingredients from the producing vendor farm or another local farm. Any herbs, milk, honey or other natural products included in their product should be grown by the producer vendor or purchased locally from another local producer.”
Live music is often performed at the market, in Dow Diamond's east parking lot.
Convenient and accessible parking is available, as well a section with tables to sample your purchases. “There is a dining area located near the food trucks, so you can still have that gathering space and sense of community at the market, even though it looks different than what it used to,” Lyons says.
The Midland Area Farmers Market, which is part of the Midland Business Alliance, is open Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 7 - October 29. The market will also be open the first three Saturdays in November from 9 a.m. to noon.