Farmers markets offer fresh produce, taste of sustainabillity

GVL Archive
A variety of items can be purchased at the Farmers Market, including flowers.

GVL Archive A variety of items can be purchased at the Farmers Market, including flowers.

Anya Zentmeyer

With the summer sun poised directly overhead, getting active in the world of sustainability has never been easier. With the reinstatement of affordable, accessible farmers markets both at Grand Valley State University and in the greater Grand Rapids area, students and community members can buy the freshest fruits and veggies from local venders.

GVSU Market

The GVSU Farmers Market will open on June 9 and continue to run through Sept. 29 on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the F parking lot.

“We are trying to support local vendors, and at the same time, we are encouraging the GVSU community to eat healthy,” said Susan Sloop, work life consultant in human recourses. “In addition, the market helps to build community.”

The opening weekend will kick off with a performance by the Rick Beerhorst band and a leadership walk led by GVSU President Thomas J. Haas along with Jim Bachmeier, finance and administrative executive.

June 23 will be Kids Day, geared at providing family fun with activities such as face painting, balloon animals and musical performances.

All season long the market will provide not only fresh produce but kettle corn, freshly-ground coffee, fresh-squeezed lemonade and lunch. A produce calendar complete with nutrition information and lunch menus can be found on the Health and Wellness Web site, Campus dining will also provide the market with blenders for those who wish to create their own smoothies with newly purchased fruits and vegetables.

“People worldwide are rediscovering the benefits of buying local food,” said Michelle Carpenter of Health and Wellness. “It is fresher than anything in the supermarket and that means it is tastier and more nutritious. It is also good for your local economy — buying directly from family farmers help them stay in business.”

Frequent visitors of the GVSU Farmers Market can pick up a punch card. Once filled, the card will qualify participants for a drawing.

According to Bart Bartles, project manager for the Sustainable Community Development Initiative, the GVSU’s Community Garden is also in the process of growing flowers to sell at the market.

“The sale of flowers will fill a need at the market and at the same time provide revenue for a more sustainable garden,” Bartels said.

Fulton Street Market

The Fulton Street Farmers Market is already in business, open four days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Established in 1922, FSFM is a local favorite and offers a wide range of locally-grown fruits and vegetables, plants and homemade arts and crafts.

Recently, Grand Rapids group Grand Action introduced of the idea of a year-round farmers market, leaving FSFM worried the demand for more vendors will stretch past what the area can provide.

However, Christine Helms-Maletic, coordinator of FSFM, said she sees this as an opportunity for further development.

“With the debacle of the auto industry here and our plentiful fresh water, Michigan’s biggest industry is agriculture,” she said. “If we can capitalize on that, make farmland affordable as farmland (i.e. stop developing it for real estate) and give young people incentives to choose farming as a profession, then we’ll be in good shape — not only for the downtown and FSFM markets, but for other new markets as well.”

Although she predicted somewhat of an impact on the market in Grand Action’s first year, she said she is not worried about FSFM.

“As we have plans to significantly improve the facilities at Fulton Street and as it is so convenient to the neighborhoods and out-of-town visitors from the east side and as the FSFM has been in business for nearly 90 years (though it’s had its ups and downs) and as the local food movement is steadily growing in West Michigan and across the country, I am not worried,” Helms-Maletic said.

For more information and for full produce calendar, visit the FSFM Web site at

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