Flint, MI — The Flint Farmers Market is holding an ongoing weekly event, Growers Only, that features local farmers and growers. The event will be every Tuesday, 10-2, through the end of harvest season.
“For farmers, they have a hard time competing price-wise with people that are not growing it, but are buying it from other places, other farms, because they have to pay for their labor, their fuel costs, there’s so many other costs that go into it,” Karianne Martus, Market Manager, said.
For this reason, the Farmers Market hosts a lot of local growers and, in Genesee County, smaller farms and gardens that they wanted to give an opportunity to come and sell.
“Farmers wanted a place where they were sort of on a level playing ground in terms of competition, where it was other farmers primarily … we wanted to give the opportunity, at least for some of our smaller farmers that are in the area to come and have a day where it was just farmers,” she said.
“Farmers are aging out and their younger people and the families are not wanting to take over the farms for a variety of reasons. And so those family farms are starting to get smaller and smaller in terms of the number that are accessible. At the same time though, farmer’s markets became super popular,”
While the number of farmers markets has grown, the number of people growing the produce hasn’t increased at the same rate.
“It’s been difficult. We’ve been struggling with farmers retiring, quite a few of them over the last few years, and there just there isn’t anyone else in the family that has stepped up and taken it over,” Martus said.
LaBria Lane, owner of MarySam’s Gardens, grows her vegetables at Women in Ag Farm Development Center in Grand Blanc.
“I’ve been active in the urban agriculture community here for 8 or 9 years now,” she said. “I had started MarySam’s gardens two years ago so it just seemed like a good opportunity for me to make more connections with community members.”
The market has hosted the local growers for three weeks so far this summer, and while Martus said things have gone smoothly, they have been practicing caution in light of the recent pandemic. In the future, Martus said they hope to include activities for kids, crafts, cooking demonstrations, and more educational opportunities to help people learn about the Michigan growing season.
Additionally, they changed their pavilion around so the tables are facing out toward the parking lot, and have placed markers on the ground to help facilitate social distancing.
“In a nutshell, we’re trying to respond to what customers are asking for in a way that farmers are comfortable with or is profitable for them. We want it to be a win for the customers, but we want it to be a win for the farmers too. This was giving them their own time to shine where we can focus just on them so they don’t kind of get lost in the bigger picture since the market is so big and there’s so many different options for people to stop and buy,” Martus said.