As spring unfolds in the Upper Peninsula, seedlings have been growing in hoop houses, greenhouses and now fields to prepare for the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market opening day on May 20th. Many farmers markets in the UP do not open until June or even July, but Myra Zyburt, the market manager, explained they are able to open in May because there are enough farmers using season extension techniques that have produce that they are ready to sell.
This year, there will be 63 vendors most weeks between farmers, artisans and value-added producers. Some vendors are regular weekly vendors and some come for just a few markets when they have products available or produce in season.
Myra explained in total there are over 80 unique vendors this season including a lot of brand new farmers. “It’s exciting to see that people in the area or moving to the area are seeing farming, producing food, agriculture a lifestyle that they want.”
The market hasn’t always been this large. Although here has been a weekly farmers market constantly in Marquette since 1999, the market used to usually consist of two hardy and persistent vendors on the corner of Washington and Fourth street.
Now the farmers market is held weekly at the Marquette Commons.
“We are right in the heart of the downtown so you have the proximity to all of the other businesses downtown and of course it’s their location and support of them that give us a downtown to add to.”
The space at the Marquette Commons adds to the energy of the market. The commons is a circular plaza and the vendors set up around the edges.
“Because of our configuration in the circles I think it helps make connections and creates a vibrancy that makes you want to be there.”
The weekly live music, frequent demonstrations, and the variety of types of vendors and products including artisans and value added producers also add to the liveliness.
“If it was just farmers and you were just coming to get your groceries you would be in and out of there in 15 or 20 minutes but because there are other things to look at and engage in, the seating and there is some prepared food as well, well you can come have your breakfast, you can have your coffee, walk around with your breadstick and see who’s there.”
Melissa Orzechowski is the UP Local Food Coordinator for Taste the Local Difference. She is a Grand Rapids Area native, but adores the Upper Peninsula. Contact her at [email protected]