The South Lansing Farmer’s Market brings fresh produce to traditionally undeserved community

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A local farmer’s market is finishing out its season this October, continuing a mission to bring farm fresh produce to the traditionally undeserved South Lansing community.

“In order to help people out, we have alternative payments,” said Jenae Ridge, the South Lansing Farmer’s Market manager. “We accept EBT and WIC Project Fresh, as well as credit card.”

The vendors 

Ridge finds the most special part of the farmer’s market to be the way that the vendors and customers treat each other.

“I think the community between the vendors is special, and also the customers,” said Ridge. “The vendors have really gotten to know each other. You know, one person is struggling to get their tent up and three others go run and help them. It’s really nice.”

These vendors bring a variety of goods to Grace United Methodist Church each Thursday, from apples, cider and doughnuts to salsa to woodwork.

“Our vendors fluctuate throughout the season. We have a core of about 16 vendors right now,” said Ridge. “We have lots and lots of fresh produce, all kinds of vegetables and fruits.”

Some of the produce vendors include Lansing Roots, an incubator farm run by the Greater Lansing Food Bank. It has the goal of providing support for limited resource communities on how to begin a successful farm, and Nodding Thistle, a family farm vendor from Barry County that has 25 years of organic certification.

“A lot of the farmers are small-scale, so they’re local. Therefore, they’re not officially certified-organic,” said Ridge.

There is more than just produce for sale at the community farmer’s market.

“We have two baked goods vendors who make things like cookies and breads and pies,” said Ridge. “We have grass-fed organic beef, free range chickens and eggs, honey and a couple craft vendors as well.”

These craft vendors include The Soap Sisters. The Soap Sisters have hand crafted soaps, hand and body lotions and lip therapy and eye serum for sale at their stand as well as on their website.

Other craft vendors include Al’s Woodcrafts and Faith’s Pillows, both of which set up their stands weekly for customers.

The market manager  

Jenae Ridge graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in social work before gaining an internship with the South Lansing Community Development Organization, eventually leading to her becoming the farmer’s market manager.

The mission of the South Lansing Community Development Organization is “to create and sustain a strong, healthy, vibrant South Lansing community, where citizens feel connected to each other, demonstrate ownership in their community, share knowledge and resources and work together toward positive change,” according to their website.

“In January, I started going through the different forms that I had to have the farmers fill out as well as the forms for alternative payments,” said Ridge.

Market history 

According to Ridge, the farmer’s market has been around for four years.

“We started in 2009. It used to be at Benjamin Davis Park, over on the southside,” said Ridge. “We moved here last year and we doubled our sales.”

The season is coming to a close according to Ridge.

“We started June 6 this year, and we will go through Oct. 24,” said Ridge. “We will be having a harvest festival on the seventeenth.”

According to the South Lansing website, the harvest festival will have community exhibits, fresh produce, children’s activities, arts and crafts and live entertainment.

 

For Your Information

The South Lansing Community Farmer’s Market is open on Thursdays between 3-7p.m. It is located at 1905 W. Mt. Hope Ave. and runs through October 24, 2013. 

For more information regarding the South Lansing Community Development Organization and to learn more about the other vendors and how to volunteer, visit www.southlansing.org

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