Fulton Street Farmers Market Hours
Tuesday: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Wednesday: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; 4-7 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
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Fulton Street Farmers Market “100% Homegrown” signs celebrate growing local, and the “100% farmer.”
In 2010, Fulton Street Farmers Market director Melissa Harrington began an unique endeavor that would soon be copied by other farmers markets in Michigan and the United States. She began working on developing the “100% Homegrown” program, a process that includes a lengthy application and farm visit.
“The idea of doing the 100% program is to really celebrate the 100% farmer,” explains Harrington. "There was never really anything like this before. The process and the sign is kind of one of a kind.”
Fueled by vendors and customer questions, the 100% program aims to make buying local easy for market-goers. Instead of having to ask about each item in question, shoppers can scan the aisle for the green and yellow signs that hang above vendors stalls.
“Because of our history, there are some farmers at market that don’t necessarily grow the majority of what they sell,” Harrington says. “[Local farmers] are limited by the seasons in Michigan. They’re only at market a short season in time, so we wanted to give them a little extra incentive to not buy and sell produce, and give them a little more exposure at market.”
In order to display the sign at their stall, a farmer needs to complete an eight page application that requires information about produce grown, expected yield and land farmed. Farms are then inspected by a third-party individual. There is a one-time application fee that covers the cost of the visit and the sign. After this process has been completed, farmers are awarded their sign.
“We’ve had suggestions that there could be a mini-sign for homegrown products, or an 80% homegrown sign, for example, but then what does that mean? Dollars, or product space, or what?” Harrington says. “At this point, it’s kind of all or nothing.”
It’s not just fruit or vegetable farmers that can be awarded a “100%” sign. Flower and meat producers can display a “Homegrown” sign as well. The list of “100%” growers includes currently includes 15 farms.
“A few other markets are in the process of implementing similar programs. The Muskegon market is one of them,” says Harrington. “There’s even interest from a market in Washington.”
While the office at Fulton Street still welcomes customer questions about vendors, Harrington admits that the signs do “make things easier” to talk about.
“It’s a great jumping off point to just say ‘you just look for these signs,’” Harrington explains. “It’s a way for the farmer to be recognized for their hard work.”
After I graduate from Grand Valley next spring (with a shiny degree in Writing and Spanish) I plan on WWOOFing around Europe or South America (or both), writing a lot of stories, meeting a lot of people, and cooking a lot of food. For now, I am more than excited to get to know farmers in the area, and let you get to know them too.
Reports on: Food, farmers, farmers with food, and farmers markets. Generally awesome things.