I Love Getting My Veggies Straight From the Farmer
Having moved to West Michigan only a year ago, one of the things I’ve loved the most is how easy and encouraged it is to buy local, especially when it comes to food.
In the short time that I’ve been here, I’ve relished the seasons and all the unique flavors they bring: honeycrisp apples picked straight off the tree, awesome beer made in my own downtown, eggs that my daughter gathered from the henhouse herself.
So what happens when you gather all these wonderful local farms and businesses under one big roof?
You get the awesomeness that is Fulton Street Farmer’s Market. No need to drive far distances or scour the Internet for local produce. We’ve got one of Michigan’s finest farmer’s markets right here in Grand Rapids, and it is ready for your family to come and enjoy!
Five Things that Make Fulton Street Farmer’s Market the Best
Have you been yet? Or maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve stopped by. Either way, here are five reasons to get you (and your reusable totes) heading out to the farmer’s market pronto.
1 – It’s Historic
When you visit Fulton Street Farmer’s Market, you’re partaking in history. In fact, it’s the oldest and largest farmer’s market in Grand Rapids.
Originally known as the “East Side Market,” it began in 1922 with farmers selling produce from their wagons. Some of the vendors can trace their roots all the way back to these beginning years, such as Tanis Orchards, which has been there since 1931.
And generations of West Michiganders have grown up along the aisles of Fulton Street–bring your own family to be a part of history!
2 – Open Year-Round
When I think of farmer’s markets, I think of summer and weekends. But Fulton Street Farmer’s Market breaks both these stereotypes.
First off–you can enjoy Fulton Street all year round. (This is a pretty big deal considering our Michigan winters!)
Not only are they open all twelve months of the year, they are also open several days a week–Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, from 8am to 3pm. This means that you can pop in for the freshest produce regularly, and it also means that you can bring the kids during the week when it’s not as busy.
You can check out the Fulton Street Artisan’s Market on Sundays and buy locally made wares, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM (June – September).
3 – The Covered Walking Area
Part of how Fulton Street stays open all year is that the entire market is under a roof. Shopping outdoors is a lot more fun when you can do it in the cool shade, or under cover from the rain or snow!
4 – Support Local Farms & Businesses
Buying ground beef at Fulton Street is a completely different experience from buying beef at the supermarket. When I buy it at Fulton Street, I get to shake the hand of the farmer who raised the cow, who hands me a carefully butchered packet of lovingly prepared meat. You almost feel like your packet should come with a name.
In fact, everything you buy from Fulton Street has a story. I love connecting my kids to their food (and plants, lotions, clothes, what have you) in this way.
One great way to support local farms in particular is to sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box, which includes a weekly harvest of produce straight from a farm of your choice. Take a peek at our CSA guide, and you’ll be surprised to see how many of them are vendors at Fulton Street!
5 – Kid and Family Friendly
Fulton Street is a great place for your whole family to shop and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere! The sound of musicians busking on the side mingle with happy chatter, as people lounge in the sun with treats and treasures.
My kids have also learned a lot from their farmer’s market trips. For example, when we shop local produce, our kids get to learn exactly how and where their food is produced–they may even get to have a conversation with the farmer who grew it! It’s taught them to not only appreciate good food, but to take steps toward becoming better stewards of the earth.
Every time I’ve gone, the vendors are always friendly to our kids, inviting them to try a sample and answering their (many) questions. And for those with strollers, the wide shopping aisle makes it easy to get around.
Fulton Street is also known to have some scrumptious kid-friendly treats on site–like ice cream and food trucks, which are always a hit! Bags of kettle corn have also been known to help keep curious toddlers content in their strollers.
Tips for Shopping Fulton Street Farmer’s Market
The joy of shopping outdoors is a true treat–one of Michigan’s finest features, in my opinion! If you do go, here are a few tips to make sure you have a great time:
- Bringing an insulated bag is a great idea if you’ll be purchasing frozen or refrigerated items (like meat and cheese). That way you don’t have to worry about items thawing or going bad.
- A basket is also a good idea, as you can spread your fresh fruit and veggies out on the bottom and they don’t get all smashed together.
- Bring cash.
- Saturday morning is the busiest time for the market. Be prepared to find parking on side streets, as the market’s parking lot has limited spaces.
- If you’ve got a baby in tow, it may be a good idea to wear your baby, if possible. This will keep your hands free to peruse and shop!
- If you use SNAP, be sure to make the most of your dollars with the Double Up Food Bucks program. WIC checks are also accepted.
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