By Amanda Popp
Local farmers markets are getting a late start this year. Many postponed opening but they are now excited to assist customers with all their fresh produce and body care needs.
The Charlotte Artisans & Farmers Market hosted by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce started its season the first week of June and will continue until October. The market is held on Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 100 W Lawrence Ave.
Courtney Anderson, market manager of the Charlotte Artisans & Farmers Market says the market hosts a variety of different vendors including fresh produce and crafting vendors, and added a new addition of takeout from two local restaurants.
“We have many vendors with fresh produce and some crafting vendors,” she said. “We also have new this year grab and go meals from The Thirsty Bird and Evelyn Bay Coffee Company.”
Anderson says the market is taking needed precautions including sanitization practices to keep customers safe.
“Each table has hand sanitizer,” she said. “We are properly staged outside where people can feel more comfortable. Each vendor was provided with standard guidelines for customers and vendors themselves on how to keep everyone safe.”
This is the first year the Chamber of Commerce has hosted the market and Anderson says there are still spots available for new vendors this year.
“Last week we had 15 vendors,” she said. “We have definitely doubled in size this year. For the rest of the year, we will have anywhere between 15-20 vendors.”
The Chamber of Commerce is also hosting free live concerts on Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 on the Courthouse Square, beginning July 2 and ending on August 13.
“Come down and check it out,” she said. “There is something for everybody and it’s definitely a great time to see and support our local farmers.”
The Eaton Rapids Community Market started its season on June 24 and will run until the end of September. The community market operates on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 116 Hall Street in downtown Eaton Rapids.
Jason Smith, market manager of the Eaton Rapids Community Market says the pandemic caused the market to begin later than usual.
“We have space for 24 vendors every market,” he said. “We got up to a little bit of a late start because of COVID 19, but we haven’t had to cancel any yet.”
Smith says the market will continue to take precautions to ensure customers’ safety and well-being.
“Our booths are 6 feet apart now and the lengths are a little bit wider,” he said. “People have more space to move now. We are outdoors so we’re encouraging masks, but they’re not required. We are also working on bringing in trash cans and hand sanitizing stations.”
Smith says the market now offers certain programs for customers including the EBT program.
“We are approved as a snap assistance, so we do accept snap and EBT, the Food Bucks program,” he said. “Customers can come in and swipe their card for whatever amount they want. They will get the coins in return and they can use those coins at each of the appropriate vendors that they can purchase goods with their EBT card.”
The Dimondale Farmers Market reopened the first Thursday in June and will now run through the last Thursday in October every Thursday from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. at 136 N. Bridge Street.
Denise Parisian, market manager of the Dimondale Farmers Market says the market vendors only sell Michigan made products, including food, plant and body care items.
“This week we have 13 vendors,” she said. “We normally run around 15 every week. Some of our vendors are on every other week schedules.”
Parisian says the market is not having any special events this year as a safety precaution as well as putting up cones and signs to make sure people adhere to social distancing guidelines.
“We are asking everyone to wear masks and we are providing masks if they don’t have them,” she said. “We are providing hand sanitizer at the gate and we have a hand washing station on site.”
Parisian says that the main difference this year is the time people are spending browsing.
“We normally encourage people to linger and visit and talk, and we are really just more transactional now,” she said. “People are now coming in, doing their shopping and then leaving.”
Parisian says the market also allows customers to take advantage of programs such as the bridge program.
“We offer the Bridge Card, Double Up, and Project Fresh programs,” she said. “This season, we have sold more tokens on our bridge card than we have ever sold before in our first month.”
The Charlotte Artisans & Farmer’s Market, the Eaton Rapids Community Market and the Dimondale Farmers Market can be found on Facebook. More information for the Dimondale Farmers Market can also be found on their website at villageofdimondale.org/farmers-market.