Vendors and shoppers pleased with additional market day

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By Julianne Pitcher
Meridian Times staff writer

The extra day of the Meridian Township Farmers’ Market is delivering more visitors and higher sales this fall.

Located at the Central Park Pavilion at 5151 Marsh Road, the Meridian Township Farmers’ Market is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Although Wednesdays were added on July 11, Okemos vendors are just now experiencing more market sales as fall is approaching. They hope this continues until the summer market ends on Oct. 31.

“I’m glad the market is open both days because it means more sales for us. The fall weather causes people to want to come pick out fresh produce and vegetables so that they can go home and make soups, stews and other comfort foods.” — Dennis Greenman of the Greenman Produce Farm of Holt, Mich.

Vendors’ booths are set up inside and outside of the pavilion, with about 25 vendors selling on Wednesdays and approximately 50 vendors on Saturdays. With families having more time on the weekends to enjoy the outdoors and shop for market items, Saturdays are busier.

Marjorie Johns of Stone Cloud Gardens Ltd., who has missed one market day in 15 years, said: “We each have our designated areas to set up. My spot stays the same the entire market season, being one of the two booths in the middle of the pavilion. This makes it easier for us to form relationships with the customers that come regularly because they remember us from our booth location.”

The Meridian Township Farmers’ Market has brought people together for 38 summer seasons. Offering many different items, such as baked goods, flowers, pasta, cheese, honey, herbal soaps, fruits, vegetables and pumpkins, these fresh and organic products keep customers coming.

Jesse Kelleghan, a Lansing Community College student, said: “I help represent Samia’s Mediterranean Gourmet by working my landlord’s booth every Wednesday. Our most popular items sold are the samosa, baklava and humus. Not only is the market a way to sell our products, but it also helps locals find out who we are as a catering business by getting our name out there.”

Local resident and customer Sally Bartley said: “Ever since I can remember, I’ve been coming to this farmers’ market. I enjoy buying a little bit of everything, but the warm caramel corn will always be one of my favorite purchases. I think it’s safe to say that I never leave the market empty handed.”

Although there is usually a rush of shoppers between 10 a.m. and noon, parking is rarely an issue because customers may use the pavilion’s parking lot, the Nokomis Learning Center, the Meridian Historical Village or the Meridian Mall. The many forms of acceptable payment make it convenient for them as well.

The Meridian Farmers’ Market Manager Christine Miller said, “Most customers pay in cash since a majority of the items are only a few dollars, but some vendors are now accepting credit cards. The market also accepts Michigan Bridge Cards, WIC Project FRESH and Senior Project FRESH/Market FRESH coupons, and Double-Up Food Bucks.”

With the market taking place twice each week, with a variety of products, accessible parking, and payment options, the farmers’ market continues to benefit the Okemos community.

Greenman said, “All of the interactions we get to have with the customers make the cold, fall mornings worthwhile. The market brings everyone together in support of local farms and other businesses, and by Okemos allowing the market to take place two days a week, the township truly shows their support for all of us.”

Johns said, “Although it’s been a hard year for some of our crops, business is starting to pick up with more sales each week. Having two market days is definitely beneficial for us as vendors and strengthens the Okemos community as a whole as well.”

Kelleghan said, “We are all looking forward to what this fall has to bring. As long as the rain stays away, I think we will continue to see more customers and higher sales.”

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