By Florian Cherdron
Meridian Times staff writer
OKEMOS — The experience of a farmers’ market — with fresh goods sold by rows of local vendors — is now available in the winter, as well. Meridian Township has been hosting a Winter Farmers’ Market in the Meridian Mall each winter since 2010.
To escape temperatures that normally do not allow for outdoor farmers’ markets during winter in Michigan, Meridian Township has moved the market indoors. Upward of 30 vendors set up their booths about twice each month inside the Meridian Mall in Okemos.
“We didn’t have a year-round market in the area, so we decided to experiment with an indoor market in the mall that wouldn’t cost us large up-front expenses,” said Meridian Township Farmers’ Market manager Christine Miller.
The indoor market has increased in frequency from five days last winter to 10 days this year, a trademark of its success, according to Miller. The market is likely to become a reoccurring event since both farmers and merchants find the indoor market favorable, said Miller. The Mall businesses like the arrangement, since market days boost mall attendance and help not only the farmers but stores the mall as well, said Miller.
“The market doesn’t have as much produce as a farmers’ market during the summer or fall, but it has other things like baked goods and cured meats and cheeses,” said Miller.
Ben Tirrell from Tirrell Farmstead Specialties sells artisan cheeses and locally grown meats at the winter market. Tirrell Farmstead Specialties is based in Charlotte, MI, and attends farmers’ markets throughout Michigan year-round.
“We do some really great markets and I think that Meridian is one of the best,” said Tirrell. “Having a market that is year-round in an area allows us to have buying patterns that are continuous rather than seasonal, which is great.”
Hillsdale is also a Michigan community that has a year round farmers market. The Hillsdale market has been around since 2002 and has gained a wave of popularity from locals, said Hillsdale resident Marla Bowen.
“In Hillsdale, I do a lot of my shopping at the farmers’ market,” said Bowen. “I think its great for the community that Meridian is starting to hold this farmers’ market year-round, too.”
The remaining indoor market dates are: Feb. 18; March 3, 17 and 31; and April 14. The market runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the JC Penney corridor of the Meridian Mall in Okemos.