MARQUETTE - It's farmers market appreciation week, a time several area market administrators say is great to celebrate the benefits that local markets bring to area residents.
"To a small community, the farmers market, it represents the common idea. It's the place where people can gather and they're not only getting their sustenance but they're also socializing and touching base with so many different people in the community," said Sarah Monte, market administrator for the Downtown Marquette Farmers and Artists Market. "It's really a highlight of many people's week and it's providing something the whole family can do."
Monte said local markets not only help people eat better, but they help communities keep their dollars and ensure a low impact on the environment.
A basket of radishes tempts customers at the Jackson Mine Farmers and Crafters Market in Negaunee. This week is nationally recognized as farmers market appreciation week — a time to recognize their role in raising awareness of local food and local food systems. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
"Those dollars are going to people you see walking down the street," Monte said. "It's better for you and better for the environment in terms of food miles. It's not coming from as far away. It's fresher, it tastes better, it has higher nutrients, it was just picked the day before and in some cases, that morning, for you."
Randy Buchler, who helps run the Gwinn Farmers Market with his wife, Libby, who is the market's administrator, said the Gwinn market is especially important for the people in his neck of the woods.
"In our community, we're trying to bring an awareness on the importance of local food and local food systems, and supporting local farms and farmers," Buchler said. "In our community, specifically, there's a high percentage of low income families and members of our community, so we focus hard on accepting the Bridge Card."
In Negaunee, the focus on the Jackson Mine Farmers and Crafters Market has been on increasing the number of customers, which they succeeded in doing by moving the market to a new, higher traffic location.
Bill Brazier, the Negaunee market coordinator, said the farmers market provides yet another, unique benefit to local communities: it can serve as an incubator for small, start-up businesses.
"Anywhere, but especially in Negaunee and Ishpeming, it enables a lot of people that don't have the time or the effort to set up their own businesses to actually create a business and provide a service to the local community that doesn't otherwise exist," Brazier said. "We've had some businesses actually start out at the market and now they're ... creating their own business, actual brick and mortar. We're sort of a test business, which is good."
The Downtown Marquette Farmers and Artists Market runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays in the Marquette Commons.
The Gwinn Farmers Market runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays at the old Gwinn Middle School.
The Jackson Mine Farmers and Crafters Market runs from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays in Miners Park in Negaunee.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.