By CHRISTIE BLECK
Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE - The Marquette Downtown Development Authority board of directors will hold several meetings to provide a comprehensive review of the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market.
In this July 12, 2012, photo East Troy, Wis., farmer Cindy Chapman, left, sells fruits and vegetables at the West Allis Farmers Market in West Allis, Wis. Marquette’s Farmers Market is looking for input from the public on the market’s future. (AP photo)
Three meetings have been scheduled this week at the Marquette Commons to discuss the Marquette Downtown Farmers Market. This is the Seeds & Spores Family Farm booth. (Journal file photo)
Meetings are scheduled for noon Monday, 6 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday at the Marquette Commons.
The sessions will provide an opportunity for open dialogue among farmers market constituents, to give recommendations for improvements and to plan for long-term sustainability of the market.
The DDA wants to gather input about the organization, structure, operations and future of the market.
Before setting the meeting dates, the DDA contracted with the Michigan Farmers Market Association to provide a "snapshot" assessment of the market.
The one-time market-day snapshot, or Rapid Market Assessment, took place Sept. 28 at the market, located at the Marquette Commons at 112 S. Third St. Sales were estimated at $20,800 while attendance was estimated at 2,435.
One of the most controversial issues regarding the farmers market has been the question of whether to include or exclude "jobbers, resellers or wholesalers" who are not permitted to sell at the market, with the exception of the Marquette store, Farmer Q's. Current market policy requires all vendors must be residents of the Upper Peninsula and all products must be grown or made in the U.P.
The assessment supported this regulation. Dot surveys were taken in which data was collected through questions posted on large posters. Market customers indicated their responses using colorful dot stickers.
One question, for example, dealt with what market feature patrons considered the most important. A total of 63 percent of the respondents said supporting local farmers and small businesses was most important, followed by availability of an ecological and organically grown product at 22 percent.
Another question posed to customers involved their definition of "local." The top two responses were: from the Upper Peninsula (53 percent) and within 100 miles of the market (30 percent).
The full report is available on the DDA website at www.downtownmarquette.org.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org