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Grand Rapids Farmers Markets 101

An introduction to farmers markets in general and a guide to the many farmers markets available in Grand Rapids.
Entrance to Fulton Street Farmers Market

Entrance to Fulton Street Farmers Market /Samantha Dine

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Double Up Food Bucks

All the markets listed in this article and many throughout the state are participating in the Double Up Food Bucks program.  Persons who have the Michigan Bridge Card or SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) benefits can use their card to get tokens to purchase produce at participating markets.  They are also eligible to get double their money for up to a 20 dollar purchase, meaning they can get 40 dollars worth of food for 20 dollars using their food assistance benefits.

Plainfield Township Farmers Market

Plainfield Township Farmers Market /Samantha Dine

YMCA staff helping out at YMCA Farmers Market

YMCA staff helping out at YMCA Farmers Market /Samantha Dine

Despite their rising presence in our city, many of us may have little to no prior knowledge about farmers markets. Perhaps we have lumped them into the category of flea markets, estate states, craft shows; essentially anything we would have to begrudingly accompany our mothers to. However, there is a strong connection between the value of farmers markets to our own kitchens and to our community at large.

So what are farmers markets?

Farmers markets are where farmers come to sell their local (and some non-local) seasonal produce, meat or eggs. Many times farmer's markets are also great source for spices, crafts, baked goods and flowers.

The benefits of shopping at farmers markets are typically seen as three fold:


Good for the local economy

Money made from the markets goes right back to local farmers and supports local workers.

Good for the earth

Buying produce from farmers markets eliminates shipping from non-local markets, helping save petroleum.  Many farmers grow organic produce, without the help of pesticides.You can ask specific farmers about their growing practices.

Good for your health

The bulk of food found in farmers markets is typically fruits and vegetables.  Food from farmers markets is minimally processed and typically does not contain additives or preservatives. Additionally, farmers market produce has usually been picked recently, ensuring that it is at the peak of its nutritional value.

Another great reason to go to farmers markets is for a fun outdoor shopping experience, and there is plenty of opportunity to do so right in the city most days of the week. This year, new farmers markets have been cropping up all over Grand Rapids. This non-exhaustive list is a rundown of a few of the farmers markets in the city open this season.

Fulton Street

Fulton Street Farmers Market  located at 1147 E. Fulton Street (between Diamond and Fuller), has been around since 1922 and is considered the grand daddy of all local farmers markets. This market is a regular contributor on The Rapidian. This information is also found on their website.The market is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays are typically the busiest day with the most vendors.

Wealthy Street

Wealthy Street Farmers market, located at 431 Cass Avenue SE (in a parking lot adjacent to Mary Free Bed Hospital) is a newcomer to the scene, having just opened this May.  Don't be put off by the smaller size of this market however: certain vendors such as Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm Market come to this market exclusively because of the smaller size. This market is a great opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with farmers and get to know them and their products. Wealthy Street Farmers market is open Thursday from 2 -7 p.m. until October 13.


The YMCA David D. Hunting branch, located at 475 Lake Michigan Drive (Lake Michigan Drive and Winter), also opened a new farmers market this year. The coordinator for the YMCA farmers market, Emily Martin, explained how their market has a few features to set it apart, such as fun activities for kids led by YMCA staff members and a featured seasonal produce item each week. A recipe featuring the item of the week is made right on site and samples are handed out along with recipe cards to take home. This market also has free weekly blood pressure screenings provided by local nursing students. The market is open Thursday from 3 -7 p.m. in the David D. Hunting parking lot  the end of September.

Plainfield Township

Plainfield Township Farmers Market, located 4411 Plainfield Ave NE (at Plainfield Ave & 5 mile Rd, adjacent to fire station #3) has more than doubled in size since its previous year. This market, open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-7 p.m. until October 28th, offers a wide variety of produce, meat, cut flowers, crafts and other specialty items. 

Southeast Area Farmers Market

The Southeast Area Farmers Market runs two days in two different locations. The market is open Fridays from 2-7 p.m. at Gerald R. Ford Middle School (851 Madison Ave SE.) The market is open Saturdays from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. at Garfield Park  (334 Burton Street SE). The market runs through October.

Be sure to check out your area to see if there are any other farmers markets more local to you or if there are any you might want to travel to. Many areas outside the city have large well known markets as well, such as Sparta, Rockford and Holland.

So, there you have them, farmers market benefits and locations, right at your fingertips. Visit one of the markets if you haven't already. What's that old saying? You can lead a horse to the market, but you can't make him buy fresh, local produce? Something like that. 


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