If one is to drive down Cedar Street in Holt on a Saturday morning they are bound to see people walking in and out of what looks like a large pole barn.
This building is home to the Holt Farmers’ Market, which unlike most farmers’ markets, is open all year-round and provides the community with organic foods and specialty products.
“At any given market we have between 25 and 30 vendors,” said Holt Farmers’ Market manager Chuck Grinnell. “The items sold here are mainly produce, poultry, beef, baked goods, ready-to-eat foods, pet foods, soaps, lotions, and some crafts.”
“Not only does the market provide healthy and local food options for our shoppers, but it promotes local entrepreneurship, contributes to the community’s economic growth and serves as a social gathering place,” said Grinnell.
Michigan State University Urban and Regional Planning assistant professor, Zeenat Kotval-Karamchandani, explains the impact that farmers’ markets have on communities.
“They are beneficial since they source locally grown produce, and are more organic and fresh than what is typically sold in stores,” said Kotval-Karamchandani. “They are also located in centers of urban areas where there is usually a shortage of fresh produce vendors.”
While local farmers’ markets are not people’s one-stop-shop for daily items, what they do provide is a sense of community and a good place to buy local.
“I believe we are getting very used to driving to the big stores and getting our foods from there,” said Kotval-Karamchandani. “We are used to seeing the larger variety in produce and the greater price discounts that big stores are able to offer. There is a change in the mindset that is needed to make these more attractive options. But I do believe that this stream of produce provision is gaining ground at an increasing rate.”
Grinnell explains that May through October are their busiest months because Michigan’s produce is in-season.
But aside from just the fruits and vegetables, they keep it open year-round because there are many Michigan-made products available throughout the year that they are able to offer to their shoppers.
Holt Farmer’s Market vendor, Anna Marie Pryor, is the owner and operator of Anna’s Accents, which features handcrafted jewelry.
“This is a place where crafters can come and get their products out,” said Pryor. “Since they don’t allow manufactured items, this place is an outlet for us.”
Pryor is a Lansing resident but has been selling her jewelry at the Holt Farmers’ Market for six years now.
“The products sold here are affordable and it’s kind of like a family because you get to know the other vendors, along with the community members,” said Pryor.
Grinnell explains that this time of the year they don’t get as many people in and out of their door on Saturday mornings as usual, but still their business stands firm.
“Our business is actually growing,” said Grinnell. “Yes we do compete with the local Meijer and Kroger, but we bring a different type of good to the table.
“I think this place provides services and unique items like fresh bread and cheese and beautiful hand made items that just aren’t found in stores,” said Pryor. “These are unique things that you can’t buy online.”
So while the major grocery store chains are always going to be useful and convenient, what they lack in is what farmers’ markets make up for in.