Updated policies OK’d for farmers market

MARQUETTE – New policies have been approved for the Downtown Farmers Market.

After a series of public-input sessions and reviewing recommendations from an ad hoc committee, the Marquette Downtown Development Authority approved policies for the market, which will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 17 through Oct. 25 at the Commons on South Third Street.

The ad hoc committee was composed of two farmers, an artisan, a downtown business owner, two community members and the DDA.

Myra Zyburt, market manager, said vendor fees were increased from $60 to $125.

“We think it’s still reasonable for all the services being provided,” Zyburt said.

She pointed out the DDA subsidizes 75 percent of market costs, and the fee increases will help defray those costs.

Zyburt said the new policies will allow vendors within Michigan to have a booth at the market, providing they grow or produce their products to comply with Michigan Department of Agriculture guidelines.

The DDA runs the market, so legally it can’t limit produce and goods sold at the market to just the Upper Peninsula, Zyburt said.

Climate-wise, the U.P. is very limited with some farm products, especially with fruit, that people like, Zyburt noted.

“Hopefully, when they’re there, they’ll see other things that they’re interested in,” she said.

According to vendor policies, which are available at www.downtownmarquette,org or www.mqtfarmersmarket.com, selection of vendors will be based on a point system that rewards vendors who have participated in the market the longest and most consistently. The system is based on the past three market seasons as well as the number of days of attendance.

Criteria for points include being a resident of the U.P. and growing or producing goods in the U.P.

All artisan non-food products sold must be original and created by the artist.

Vendors also are expected to participate in all applicable alternative payment programs, including Project FRESH/Market FRESH, Double Up Food Bucks and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/Electronic Benefit Transfer.

Vendor Cindy Baker, who has sold leaf sculptures, perennials and other goods at the market, said: “I think the new fees, although more than double from last year, are more than fair considering what a vendor receives for that fee: the long season, advertising and the exposure to the public attendance.”

Baker, who had attended a public-input session, said she is pleased the DDA listened to the vendors.

“I love the change in hours,” she said. “You always knew when it was 1 o’clock by the sudden and consistent decrease in customers. That last hour until 2 o’clock went by very slowly.”

Vendor applications, which are available at www.mqtfarmersmarket.com, will be accepted through April 11.

The Downtown Marquette Farmers market is in its 15th straight year. Last year, the market drew almost 16,000 people with an average weekly attendance of 700.