TRAVERSE CITY — Area farmers markets are hanging awnings, sprucing up spaces and sorting through vendor applications in preparation for their opening — or their move to outdoors — starting this week.
Changes in store
The Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market kicks off the season Saturday with several changes, including a slightly revamped layout to alleviate crowding, and permanent spots for vendors to make them easier for customers to find.
“That is something that the vendors are very, very, very supportive of and excited about,” said market master Tricia Phelps, adding that customers can view a map of vendor stalls at the SEEDS office along the Boardman River near Union Street. “With a crowd it is hard to pick out a vendor if you don’t know where they are.”
Vendors also will have to grow or produce their own products, a change from earlier rules. No reselling of others’ products will be allowed.
The new rule is a hit with farmers like Michelle Ferrarese of Birch Point Farm in Traverse City and Grawn.
“Hopefully people will take it as a cue to diversify what they grow,” said Ferrarese, who specializes in heirloom vegetables, herbs, cut flowers and winter greens. “We grow everything we sell. It’s really easy and feels good to look people in the eye and tell them we grow everything we sell.”
A mixed bag
Growers with hoop houses will have the jump on others because of the long winter and cold spring that has made outdoor soil too wet to work up for planting, among other things. That means many market vendors traditional spring crops like greens, radishes, turnips, herbs and kale later in the season.
“The things you usually see through spring and early summer will now extend to midsummer,” Ferrarese said. “Hot weather crops like tomatoes, cucumbers and basil will come on later and all at once.”