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Farmers markets a local draw

August 12, 2011
By Stephen Anderson , Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK - Grocery stores and supermarkets pack their shelves with a wide variety of food from all over the world, but Copper Country residents looking for the freshest food from local farmers need not look beyond the area's farmer's markets.

Throughout the summer and into the early fall, markets run once or twice a week in Hancock, L'Anse, Calumet, Lake Linden and Mass City, offering traditional vegetables and fruits, but also bakery, jams and jellies, and more.

Additionally, the markets often feature local arts and crafts vendors, showcasing an eclectic display of local talent.

"People really like the fresh, locally made foods," said Teresa Palosaari, one of the organizers of the Hancock Tori Market, which runs Wednesday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Quincy Street, with two huge tents straddling the sidewalk leading to the former Hancock Middle School.

Palosaari owns the Country Craft Cabin in Chassell, where she sells her homemade jams and jellies, along with a wide variety of crafts, including her popular towels.

But it's more than just the business exposure and fresh vegetables that bring her out to the market.

"There's a lot of personal effect, and personal touch," Palosaari said. "People have more time to stand around and talk and catch up on what's going on in the community."

Buying local is big as well, according to Palosaari, who has been actively involved at the Hancock Tori Market for seven years.

Palosaari noted more vegetables will be coming soon as crops near harvest.

James Niemela from Niemela's Market Gardens was one of the few vendors selling vegetables Wednesday in Hancock, his first time at the Tori market.

He will be bringing lettuce, carrots, kale, basil, cucumber, tomatos and more to the market in the future, and "zucchini is always a hot seller," said Niemela, who has taken part in markets in L'Anse and Chassell the past few years.

The L'Anse Broad Street Market runs Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m., accompanying the village's weekly musical performances in the waterfront bandshell.

"It's great to meet the customers, and it helps put a face on the food people eat," Niemela said. "People can talk to the people that grow their food, and know it's fresh instead of two weeks old."

Fresh food was the name of the game for Maurice and Carolee Stark, who used to live in the area but have since relocated to Kansas.

"I like the fresh vegetables," said Carolee as she completed a sale at Niemela's food stand, noting the different growing season from Kansas, where she frequents her local farmer's market twice a week.

"We always try to support the local farmers," added Maurice, a former Michigan Technological University teacher.

According to Martha Solden, who has been involved in farmers markets for 21 years, the market gets many tourists and returning customers.

"I get to meet a lot of nice people, and I look forward to seeing many of them every year," Solden said. "If people can talk face to face and know how their food is made and grown, they like that."

Solden runs her jams, jellies and bakery business called Aunt Jane's almost entirely through the markets.

"If the customers keep coming, we'll keep staying," said Solden, who added that vendors can join the market by bringing just $5 and a table.

"It's great to keep the money in the community," said Jeanne Medlyn, who brought her spinning wheel to the market. "Personally, I love the locally grown food, there's less of a carbon footprint ... and it's great to know what you're getting and who grew it."

"There are lots of good artists and artisans, and it's great to support ... local businesses," said Gustavo Bourdieu, who sells decorated rocks and honey at the Hancock Tori Market.

In addition to the Hancock and L'Anse markets, the Lake Linden market runs Saturdays 10-2 in the park, Mass City is Wednesday and Thursday 9-6, and the new Main Street Calumet Farmers and Artisans Market runs Fridays 4-7.



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