Marquette farmers market starting

Banners in downtown Marquette advertise that the city’s farmers market opens for the season on Saturday, running through mid-December. (Courtesy photo)

MARQUETTE — As the flowers of spring begin to sprout, the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market is preparing for another season of business, with new vendors and a schedule full of programming and demonstrations.

The farmers market is held weekly from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Marquette Commons, located at 112 S. Third St., near the Iron Ore Heritage Trail. It opens Saturday and runs through Dec. 16.

“The Downtown Marquette Farmers Market is the place to shop for local, fresh food and a wide array of unique artisan goods,” said Myra Zyburt, market manager. “The half-acre plaza at the Marquette Commons hosts close to 60, independently owned small businesses on a Saturday morning.”

Zyburt said the market vendors provide a variety of unique and heirloom vegetables, sometimes harvested just hours before the market opens. Near the beginning of the season, some of the locally grown vegetables include crispy spring greens, asparagus, rhubarb, radishes, young onions and carrots.

Local farms and vendors also frequently sell meat, eggs, maple syrup, honey and jams, while artisans offer handmade crafts and other unique items and works of art.

In total, about 80 vendors will be at the market this year, rotating through the roughly 55 spaces available each week.

Zyburt said there are 14 brand new vendors this year, and she expects the market will host food demonstrations twice per month. Other returning events and demonstrations include Smart Gardening techniques on May 27, June 3 and 10, and July 8 and 15; World Wide Knit in Public Day on June 10; wood turning demos on Aug. 8; and a Sept. 2 corn shelling demonstration. Weekly live music performances are also held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Beyond providing residents an opportunity to purchase fresh produce and other goods, Zyburt said the farmers market helps to strengthen the local food system in the Upper Peninsula.

“In 2016, close to 1,800 acres of farmland was in production by participating farmers,” she said. “The local small businesses that make up the market employed over 167 people.”

The market also had a positive impact on downtown businesses, she said, referencing preliminary results of a customer survey conducted last year.

“Most people that shopped at the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market came downtown specifically for the market but then stayed downtown patronizing local businesses and spent more than twice as much at the brick-and-mortar businesses than they did at the farmers market,” Zyburt said.

She said the market also creates a “joyful” atmosphere for people to gather, shop, listen to local music or watch a demonstration and participate in programming.

“In addition, the market participates in five forms of food assistance to make sure everyone has access to locally grown, fresh food,” she added.

The market accepts SNAP — or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — benefits, as well as those provided through Senior Market FRESH and WIC Project FRESH. It also distributes Double Up Food Bucks as funds to match dollars used through SNAP, and offers Hoophouses for Health vouchers to qualifying customers. Cash, credit and debit cars are also accepted.

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