Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

April 21, 2013

New rules set for Traverse City farmers market

TRAVERSE CITY -— Lori LaClair will be able to keep selling her Natural Northern Foods salsa, hummus and cheese spreads at the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market when it opens for the season May 4.

She’s been a farmers market vendor since 2007, and LaClair and other producers of value-added products such as jams, jellies and other processed items who don’t grow most of their own produce or product ingredients have been able to peddle their wares as long as they use at least 25 percent Michigan-grown ingredients.

Traverse City’s Downtown Development Authority late last week approved rule changes that now require processed products to be composed of at least 25 percent of material grown or gathered by the vendor. But producers of value-added products who were grandfathered in from previous years will be able to continue to sell, as long as they continue to meet the 25 percent Michigan-grown requirement.

“For my business, it’s a wonderful thing,” said LaClair, who uses Michigan cranberries and cherries as well as produce from local farmers in her products. “For other people, I don’t know how easy that is to do.

“It’s going to be tough in this economy for the average entrepreneur who is trying to start, to do that. To me, it’s getting a little political. But again, I’m grandfathered in, so it’s hard for me to have an opinion.”

In addition, those who buy and then resell produce from elsewhere and were grandfathered in when other rule changes were implemented last year now must grow more than half of the goods they sell. Vendors also are required to display signs with produce that they’ve purchased for resale, indicating where it originated.

Current market rules state that bread products are eligible for sale, as long as they are baked from dough made by the vendor.

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