Marquette farmers market should remain inclusive

As a follow up to the story we ran on July 13, “Farmers Market Changes Eyed,” we felt it was time for us to join the conversation. We want to congratulate the Downtown Development Authority for creating a great weekly event in the summer with the Downtown Farmers and Artists Market. Many people make visiting the market a regular part of their Saturday routine. The number of vendors has increased significantly over the years and we feel there is a great mix of vendors currently participating in the market.

We recognize the fact that the DDA has the authority to make some changes to the current Farmers and Artist Market. It is our understanding that the DDA subsidizes the market with a substantial amount of money. Without that subsidy the market would not exist, so they obviously have the right to set the rules. We hope that other businesses located in the downtown area that pay taxes to support the DDA recognize, as we do, that the farmers market is a great draw to bring people downtown. Part of that draw is Farmer Q’s which is a tax paying downtown business that has family roots in the farming business. People who work in the downtown area have found Farmer Q’s to be a welcome addition to the downtown area. When you visit the Farmers and Artists Market you will see that Farmer Q’s is a major draw, which also benefits the other vendors. It makes perfect sense to us that a business that meets the current participation criteria and pays taxes, which supports the DDA, should be allowed to participate in a DDA sponsored event.

Some local farmers have voiced their concern over who should be allowed to participate in the market, but from our perspective the final decision is in the hands of the DDA – as it is the group responsible for hosting and financially subsidizing the market.

The DDA has built a great variety of vendors over the years and we trust they will continue to make good decisions regarding who can participate. We also understand why they may have to make an adjustment to the $60 fee they charge for participating in the market. The $60 fee covers the entire summer, which is one heck of a good deal. If they need to raise those fees to guarantee the future success of the market, that seems reasonable to us.

We are glad that the market has invited and encouraged local farmers to participate. We all enjoy having the opportunity to purchase locally grown and produced products. We do, however, believe that these local farmers should not try to dictate the rules of who is allowed to be a vendor at the market. Local farmers need to understand the rules going in and then make the determination as to whether or not they want to participate. If they are not happy with the rules for the downtown market they can look for another location where they can lease a spot on their own and control the rules of that market.

We would hate to see the DDA discontinue the downtown market because they don’t want to be caught in the middle of a debate among vendors as to who should be allowed to participate.

As a taxpaying downtown business, we appreciate the efforts made by the DDA in building what we believe to be a very successful farmers and artist market. The market has been a real asset to the Marquette Community. We trust that the DDA will make good decisions in the future to maintain a strong market.