In today’s impersonal world, where people often buy their food at a supermarket, a farmer’s market can help create a special sense of community.
Dru Montri, the owner of Ten Hens Farm in Bath and the director of the Michigan Farmer’s Market Association, was approached to help begin the Bath Farmer’s Market in 2010.
“I think people in the town were starved for something to happen,” said Jeff Garrity, the owner of Laughing Crane Farm, which maintains a booth at the market. Garrity, who is also the township treasurer, said that a total of 53 people showed up at the initial organizing meeting, a significant turnout for a town of roughly 2,000.
Towns across the nation are set up in neighborhoods, supermarkets and impersonal settings. Rural towns house farming families with cornfields as neighbors, making community interaction difficult to accomplish.
Bath, a small rural town in Mid-Michigan, has figured out the balance between a farming town and a welcoming community with one single implementation – the Bath Farmer’s Market.
Various kinds of food
What began as just an idea within a small community has grown into an event for the town. This unique year-round farmer’s market houses a wide array of vendors,. Of the 14 regular vendors, a third are from Bath itself. Vendors call into one of three categories:
- Direct vendors – These are people who market fruits, vegetables and other food products from their home farms or kitchens.
- Representative vendors – ere vendor definitions include direct vendors, representative vendors Artisan vendors.
Dru Montri, owner of Ten Hens Farm and director of the Michigan Farmer’s Market Association, was approached to help begin the Bath Farmer’s Market in 2010.
“There’s a lot of growth in farmer’s markets,” Montri said. “A lot of the people want to come into a market and purchase foods that might not grow in Mid-Michigan.”
The Bath Farmer’s Market typically houses close to 14 vendors a week, along with an experienced folk band playing in the middle of the L-shaped shopping market. Consumers have their choices of products ranging from harvested honey from Larry Howell to fresh produce from area farms to a jar of Mama C’s red sauce that she swears is tasty on everything.
Jeff Garrity, owner of Laughing Crane Farm and Bath Township Treasurer, helped to begin the market by contacting Montri to meet about the potential of starting a market. What was believed to be a small meeting had a turnout of 53 attendees.
“I think people in the town were starved for something to happen,” said Garrity.
Christian Scott, former Michigan State University student and current Bath Farmer’s Market manager, runs the front tent at the market where customers exchange money for wooden coins to shop the market with. The stigma on the expense of farmer’s market shopping is not so present at the Bath Farmer’s Market once customers speak with the vendors and compare the prices.
“People think it’s more expensive to eat at farmer’s markets,” explained Scott. “It’s not more expensive to eat locally and fresh.”
While it is debated whether to shop produce at a supermarket or a farmer’s market, many are seeing the importance and the perks to staying local.
When people are deciding where to shop, Montri said they should look at the benefits of buying their food locally.
“For us, it’s not like you should only shop at farmer’s markets,” said Montri. “It’s a place that you can learn more about where your food comes from and, at farmer’s markets, you have the opportunity to talk with the vendor right across the table from you about where your food comes from. People are becoming more curious about where there food was grown, even how it was made and ingredients in it. I think people really like that.”
When Scott and his coworker, Julia Kramer, explained their favorite part of the Bath Farmer’s Market, both concluded the highlight is on being a part of the community.
“The community is really great,” said Kramer. “I’ve worked at a couple different markets and it wasn’t like this.”
The Bath Farmer’s Market isn’t stopping at giving the community just a place to shop. The market will be presenting an event called the Farm to Fork Fall Feast on October 18th to support the local farmers and vendors, along with the farmer’s market itself.
Bath Farmer’s Market is open every Thursday from 3 to 7 P.M. year round. The market will be at James Couzens Memorial Park until the first Thursday in November where the market will move into the Bath Community Center.
Tokens are used to purchase goods at Bath’s Farmer’s Market.
The Farmer’s Market offers shoppers variations of goods that might be better than grocery products.
Laughing Crane Farm offers various goods to the market.
Mama C’s jarred sauce lends uniqueness to the Bath Farmer’s Market.