Friday, 26 April 2013 10:33

Renovations to Fulton Street Farmers Market Almost Complete

Written by  Audrey Sochor, Lauren Longo
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Fulton Street Farmers' Market
1147 E. Fulton St. Grand Rapids
Open Tues., Wed., Fri.,
Sat., 8 a.m.–3 p.m.
beginning Saturday, May 4
(616) 454-4118

Although the Fulton Street Farmers Market experienced unforeseen problems during renovations, the final phase of construction will be complete by the May 4 opening day.

Contamination in the soil caused delays and made it necessary to extend the campaign for capital before moving ahead. The entire project cost more than $3 million from start to finish.

"Thanks to many generous funders and to several new donors, we completed the campaign in November 2012 and were able to re-start construction in January," said Christine Helms-Maletic, project development manager.

Since renovations started, the farmers market installed a new underground storm water management systemand built a shed with overhead sheltering and lighting, in addition to new stalls with upgraded electrical and water access.

"We also rearranged the parking area to encourage smoother traffic flow, repaired the pavement, added new trees and landscaping, installed extra bike racks and created a new, enhanced bus stop," Helms-Maletic said.

This year, the market added a new manager's office and wheelchair accessible restrooms. But the biggest project is a year-round building which will house about eight vendors. The building's green roof is a work in progress.

With most of the renovations complete, Helms-Maletic said the response from both customers and venders has been hugely positive.

"Patrons appreciate the wider aisles and the ability to stay — mostly, depending on the wind — dry while they shop," she said. "Vendors are spending less time setting up and taking down tarps each day, and many have reported increased customer traffic, which benefits their business."

Parking has been a concern for some patrons, but urban areas provide limited opportunities for expansion. Changes to parking have helped,but Helms-Maletic encourages the use of alternative transportation.

Or customers could use theMarket'sWednesday hours between 4-7:30p.m.

"Many favorite vendors are still there, but the jostling crowds are not," Helms-Maleic said.

By Audrey Sochor

Food Stamps Make Farmers Markets More Accessible

About 1.8 million people in Michigan receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp program.Since 2007, farmers markets have been collaborating with SNAP, when the Michigan Food Policy Council and Michigan Farmers Market Association began increasing the number of markets capable of accepting electronic benefits like Bridge Cards. Since 2010, people with SNAP benefits can get twice as much local produce with the Double Up Food Bucks program. Customers use their bridge card at one of 40 participating markets (including the 100-Mile Market and Fulton Street, Holland and Muskegon farmers markets) and get an equal amount of tokens or electronic credit back to use on more Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables. Over the next several years, the program will expand to include more of the nearly 80 farmers markets that accept Bridge Cards.

By Lauren Longo 


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