The Fulton Street Farmers’ Market kicks off its 2018 summer season with additional parking, nine new bike racks, upgrades to bathrooms, and improved wayfinding signage. Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters is also taking over coffee service with new brewers and grinders, as well as eco-friendly cups. And, from June 13 through August 22, through a collaboration with GR Loves Food Trucks and the Midtown Neighborhood Association, the market will host a Summer Night Series from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays.
“We’ll have six food trucks, farms, and artisans sprinkled throughout, [with] games and live music,” says Rori Weston, executive director and market manager for the market. “It will be a nice, fun night market series, a little more interactive and fun for the whole family.”
The market has also signed on more than 15 new vendors—farmers, artisans, and cottage foods vendors selling items like baked goods, jams, and preserved relishes.
“We’re welcoming new vendors, that was not done openly in the past,” Weston says. “We’re expanding into the market’s head house to accommodate more vendors.”
One of those new vendors, Jennifer Machiele, launched her baking business, Jen’s Cookie Jar, at the market this spring. A former pastry chef for Charlie’s Crab and Louis Benton Steakhouse, Machiele grew up in Muskegon where her grandmother ran Tyler’s Home Bakery in the 60s and 70s.
“By the time all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren came along, she no longer had her bakery but she had a home business in her breezeway,” Machiele recalls. “I always loved playing bakery.”
Machiele bakes the cookies and scones she vends at the Downtown Market Incubator Kitchen. Though the chocolate chip always sell out first, she considers her pecan hora her signature cookie.
“It is a recipe that my grandma passed down," she says. "I love that cookie! Grandma baked them for us for every year at Christmas. Every time I bake them, my daughters say, 'It smells like Christmas in here.'"
Other market perks include a rolling book-cart—a portable lending library of cookbooks and gardening books—and Friday cooking demos with the YMCA. The market accepts all food assistance programs, participates in Double Up Food Bucks, and employs a student navigator to assist those shopping with SNAP/Bridge Card benefits.
The Fulton Street Farmers Market's regular hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Come for the cookies but stay for the fresh produce, meats, dairy products, baked goods, flowers, and plants. (A full list of vendors is available on the market's website.) On Sundays through September 30, the Artisan Market features local artists and crafters from 11 a.m. through 3 p.m.
Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Development News Editor
Photos courtesy Fulton Street Farmers Market and Grand Rapids Downtown Market