BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
TRAVERSE CITY — Mid-week shoppers now may browse Traverse City’s downtown farmers market on Wednesdays through Halloween.
The open-air market typically wraps its Wednesday offerings by the end of September, but farmers successfully lobbied the city’s Downtown Development Authority to extend the mid-week schedule through Oct. 31.
The Saturday version of the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market already runs through the end of October.
“This is the time the winter storage crops are coming in and some of the summer crops are still left,” said Mike Powers, market manager. “The farmers asked us because last year they had a lot of produce left over and they were looking for a market for it.”
Powers credits organizations such as Michigan State University Cooperative Extension for helping farmers extend their growing seasons and creating a wider variety of fresh produce later in the season. This year’s widespread apple crop woes aside, vendors still have a good variety of apples, as well as squash, pumpkins, carrots, potatoes, brussels sprouts and fall greens.
“I even saw someone selling raspberries last week,” Powers said.
Reid Johnston of Second Spring Farm in Cedar sells plenty of root crops this time of year, but his summer crops like tomatoes, peppers, and various greens haven’t yet fallen victim to frost.
In years past, most farmers wouldn’t have produce to sell in October, but many use new techniques to extend their season. Johnston uses greenhouses and row houses, sort of a portable mini hoop-house, to extend his season even beyond October.
Wednesday’s market usually has about 30 to 35 vendors, officials said, compared to the Saturday market that can attract up to 75 vendors.
The Wednesday market opens at 8 a.m., 30 minutes later than Saturday. Both end at noon.
City officials said there is no downside to extending it another month as long as shoppers take advantage.
“Wednesday the difficulty is parking ... so it appeals to people already downtown,” said Rob Bacigalupi, DDA deputy director. “Our hope is there is enough traffic to sustain it so our vendors are happy enough to continue to come out.”
Johnston will be at the market today, and believes his customers will be, too.
“Wednesday market consists of locals, so all the customers are there anyway,” he said.