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A Winter Market Wonderland: Fulton Street Farmer's Market plans new addition

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This article was written and edited by Brian Coleman, Meagan DeCarlo, Jordan Keuning, and Trisha Thompson for EN 102-4433 at GRCC

Finding fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter is next to impossible. Visiting the produce section in your grocery store and finding low grade apples and tomatoes that might not meet your standards can be frustrating. But what if you could get fresh veggies and fruits year-round from local farmers? Having a farmer's market that is open all summer and winter would make shopping for fresh food much easier. Many of us are aware that the Fulton Street Farmer's Market, located on the corner of Fulton and Fuller, sells fabulous goodies, homemade baked goods, fresh picked produce and many other local items. What most people don’t know is this winter they embarked on their first official winter vending season, and they're making plans to expand their winter offerings next year.

After being in business for over 80 years the Fulton Street Farmer's Market started a year-round schedule this year and will be expanding in the near future to accommodate more winter business in years to come. The director of the Farmer's Market, Melissa Harrington, commented, “In the near future we are planning to build an indoor vending area along with a covered enclosable outdoor vending area.” The plan is to make a 2,000 square foot widened plaza that will house several vendors, replacing the tarp coverings that they would normally use and create plenty of parking for customers. The addition would also include plans to fix the flooding at the northern end of the market by eliminating the steep incline at the south end.

“At the moment there are five vendors signed up for this winter season,” Melissa explained. “As the weather improves, I imagine that more vendors will start attending.” Fulton Street farmers sell a wide variety of foods, everything from meat to fresh vegetables. “Our five regular vendors sell a range of meats like beef, pork, lamb and fish. We also have milk, butter, ice cream and honey. The fifth vendor sells home grown veggies and hydroponically grown greens,” Melissa said. On top of having fresh food to buy at the market, you can also find things like flowers and jewelry.

Construction on the new addition should begin some time this year and is expected to be complete in 2012. When asked what FSFM needs from the community to make this project succeed, Melissa responded, “Money! The new market project is slated to cost $2.6 million dollars and we plan on raising those funds from private philanthropic sources, along with monetary support from the public.” The Fulton Street Farmer's market has a large group of regular customers and loyal supporters. Keeping money in Grand Rapids will help bring the revenue the market needs to expand and help keep local farmers in business. It's estimated that in 2009 FSFM made around 1.5 million dollars, and keeping that money local really makes a difference. This helps strengthen the local economy and keeps companies and businesses running. The campaign to raise money for the new addition starts this coming April.
Being able to buy fresh fruits and vegetables year round is easier when the farmer's market is open all day, every day. It allows you to meet the people who grow your food and keeps jobs here in West Michigan. No more going to the store to buy produce that has most likely been shipped from out of state. Opening the market year round is a great idea and with this new addition coming, you can be sure you’re going to enjoy the winter with fresh food.

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