It’s been the pride of Downtown. The Flint Farmers’ Market is a bustle of activity, bringing unique foods, abundant fresh produce, delicious baked goods and a wide variety of events drawing thousands of visitors to Flint. June 21 marked the fifth anniversary of the Flint Farmers’ Market at its current location at 300 E. First Street.
It has been an exciting journey, according to Karianne Martus, Market Manager. “There is so much to celebrate,” she adds. One thing they are excited about is attendance at the Market has risen to 535,000 people a year, up from 250,000 (more than twice the customers) at the former location. And perhaps the biggest reasons to celebrate are the many community partnerships that have been formed over the years. “Everyone is really supportive of each other!” Martus exclaims. HAP (Health Alliance Plan) is the Market’s biggest sponsor and recently renewed its partnership for three more years. “The funding they provide helps fill in the gaps and makes a huge impact,” she reports.
Thanks to the generous supporters and the partnerships that have been created, here’s what’s new at the Flint Farmers’ Market!
With visitors coming from all over, one of the biggest challenges is finding a spot to park at the Market, especially during weekdays. “Everyone knows that parking is a challenge,” Martus reports. A community partner stepped up to offer a solution. Michigan Transportation Authority (MTA) has been a longtime friend of the Farmers’ Market and the main MTA bus terminal is located directly across from it. MTA came up with the idea of resurrecting the use of a trolley to transport visitors to the Market from various Downtown parking areas. “They came to us and said, ‘this is how we can help’,” Martus reports.
In June, MTA General Manager, Ed Benning, announced the return of the MTA Flint Trolley, which transports people to the Market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 8am-5pm, every 15 minutes. According to Martus, the trolley can hold 20-plus passengers who are encouraged to park at the UM-Flint S Lot to catch a ride. Other pick-up sites include: Northbank Center, Churchill’s, Third and Wallenberg, Saginaw and Second NB, UM-Flint Pavilion and Soggy Bottom Bar. There will also be an evening route that goes to a variety of bars. “It’s free!” Martus exclaims. She also says the MOVE IT app will tell you when the trolley is running. It can also be utilized for special events.
ELGA Credit Union Demonstration Kitchen
On June 4, a ribbon-cutting was held for the Market’s newly-renovated demo kitchen, marking the start of a new partnership with ELGA Credit Union. “It looks beautiful in there!” Martus exclaims. The commercial kitchen is used for nutritional education classes set up by several of the Market’s community partners including MSU Extension and Hurley Children’s Center. It is also used as a platform to showcase local culinary talent and can be rented for private cooking classes and small events, Martus adds. “ELGA is committed to our community and we are proud to have them as part of our Market family. We look forward to the wonderful impact we will make together.”
This new space is located at the west end of the outdoor Market pavilion. According to Martus, there is a nice seating area and it was remodeled to include space for three or four food trucks on Market Days and for Flint Handmade’s Art & Craft Street Fair on Saturdays. Sponsored by HAP, the space has picnic tables, indoor grass carpet and patio-themed decorations. “People like this little area,” Martus shares, adding that many eat lunch there. A variety of food trucks serve Chinese food, desserts, BBQ and tacos.
Upick Grocery Delivery Service
According to the Market Manager, a new online shopping, pick-up and delivery service is in the works and expected to be up and running in September. It’s available to community residents who are not able to reach locally grown products on a daily basis.
Looking back at the last five years, Martus says: “It’s been more than we could have ever imagined. Since we moved, people come here from all over the country. The support we have received from the community and the generosity of our partners has brought more business for our vendors and allowed us to launch even more businesses. I’m looking forward to the next five years!”
- 45 year-round vendors
- 35 seasonal outdoor vendors (May-December)
- 3 premiere venues for 150 people
- 2 small venues for 25 people
- 2 commercial incubator kitchens that provide resources for budding food entrepreneurs
- Continued partnership with local, state and federal agencies that provide food assistance to those in need
Did you know?
The Flint Farmers’ Market was recognized as one of the “Great Places in America” by the American Planning Association. It serves as a model for other markets across the state and the country.
Photography By Kayce McClure