It was cold and windy this past Saturday, but that didn’t stop the Meridian Township farmers’ market from running on its last Saturday of the regular outdoors season on Oct. 26.
The farmers’ market is hosted every Saturday and Wednesday at the Central Park Pavilion in Okemos from May to July. The market offers a wide variety of locally grown produce, homemade goods and more from around the state of Michigan. The goal of the market is to provide the community an area to get fresh produces as well as support Michigan-based businesses.
“Everyone here is a local, independent business,” said Herb Confer, owner of Sandy Ridge Farms.
Confer and his wife have been participating in the market for eight years. His business is based out of Zeeland, Michigan, where they bake fresh bread and make their own maple syrup. He said it is important to attend farmers’ markets as they are in the forefront of supporting local businesses.
For some of the businesses, farmers’ markets like this one are where they make most of their money. Marjorie Johns, the owner of Stone Cloud Garden, said she used to sell her products at fairs and festivals, but has moved mainly to farmers’ markets.
“This is one of my favorite markets,” Johns said. “People here are friendly and a lot of us have been here for years.”
Johns herself has been selling at the Meridian Township Farmers’ Market since 1997. She said that the market has changed since she first started, but it helps businesses expand. She said that the markets help the businesses understand how the marketplace and consumers’ interests are changing. Many of those vendors are conscious of health concerns and will work with customers to make sure they buy the best products for them.
“We adapt our businesses for what customers have asked for,” Johns said. “So, all of our businesses have changed from when we first started out.”
The market houses several vendors with a variety of products, from fruit-based wines to mushrooms. Betty Rupley, owner of Bean Creek Cookie Company, ell her bake goods at the market.
Rupley said that she puts a lot of time and effort into making her products and it is like a reward when people come up and compliment her desserts.
“The upside is that I can make money doing what I love,” Rupley said.
Most importantly, the market is about community and family. Tom Cary, the market manager, said MI Bridge Cards and double up food bucks are accepted. Shoppers go to the information booth and they will help them exchange their governmental assistance for vouchers to shop at the market.
Shawn Diemer of Diemer’s Farm and Greenhouse said he values the farmers’ market because it helps support his family. He has been coming to the market for about ten years and he enjoys the support of the community.
“It’s a family run business,” Diemer said. “It’s large enough to support us and we appreciate the Okemos area for its support.”
The market will be on break for the month of November, except for the day before Thanksgiving. After that, it will move inside Meridian Mall from December until May and will run the first and third Saturday of every month. For more information, go to their Facebook page or check out their website.