Strawberries from Local Yokels Farm on the Old Mission Peninsula, 2019 | Jane Boursaw Photo
Strawberries from Local Yokels Farm on the Old Mission Peninsula, 2019 | Jane Boursaw Photo
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I’ve had a few conversations lately about the idea of a local farmer’s market here on the Old Mission Peninsula, and I’m curious what you all think about the idea. Imagine going to a spot here in our local community and buying fresh tomatoes, maple syrup, cherries and flowers.

Yes, there’s the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market in Traverse City. They not only do an amazing job each summer, but they really stepped up during the pandemic, pivoting to online sales to ensure that both customers and farmers had a way to buy and sell fresh produce. (By the way, they are opening for in-person sales this Saturday, June 13, with social distancing measures in place, as noted in this Ticker story. They are also continuing the virtual farmer’s market.)

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While I know there are OMP farmers who sell their produce at the Downtown Farmer’s Market, I’ve always thought we needed our own farmer’s market here on the OMP. Here are five reasons why:

  1. Support OMP Farmers. An OMP farmer’s market would help support the farmers right here in our own community. Yes, we love all farmers, but especially our OMP farmers. A farmer’s market would not only help to support our local farmers, but also ensure that we will always have an agricultural community here on the OMP.
  2. Stock Up With Local Produce. It would be a great way to stock up on large amounts of local produce for canning and freezing. And let’s face it, buying local gets more important with each passing year. Knowing where your produce comes from and who grows it is essential in this day and age.
  3. See Friends and Neighbors. It would be fun to catch up with friends and neighbors while you’re shopping for local fresh produce.
  4. Avoid Crowds. While I love the Downtown Farmer’s Market, it’s often crowded – which is a good thing for the farmers! Still, I’ve found myself avoiding it for that reason. (Although, as The Ticker story mentions, right now they are currently limiting customers to 300 at a time for social distancing reasons.)
  5. Space to Park. Parking is often a problem with the Downtown Farmer’s Market. It can be tough to find a spot nearby so you don’t have to haul your purchases a ways to get back to your car.

Sure, we have a variety of lovely farm stands here on the OMP, and I love promoting them here on the Gazette. I also buy lots of fresh produce from them. But it would also be great to have a space where all our local farmers could gather on a certain day, and all the residents could buy from them collectively.

I’m curious what the farmers think of this idea. Does this seem like a good idea? Or would it mean lots of extra work for you when you’re already pressed for time during the growing season?

I know the folks at Old Mission Peninsula School organized a Friday farmer’s market a couple of years ago, so maybe someone could take that concept and run with it. The idea has also come up at the Master Plan Committee meetings, perhaps holding a weekly farmer’s market at Bowers Harbor Park or another township property. So the idea is definitely swirling around out there.

Also, I bet if someone spearheaded something for the OMP like what they’re doing in town – having people order things ahead of time from various farmers – people out here would probably love that.

Thoughts? Would you support a local OMP farmer’s market? Why or why not?

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A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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  1. Hi Jane!
    Really love the idea of a local Mkt or even a veggie swap, since of course we can’t compete with all available at the Sara hardy market……maybe a site for a few hours a week somewhere, where we indicate what we will bring to either sell or swap….

  2. A local farm market would be most welcome. Sara hardy is great but parking awful. Now that they want to use the open Space I doubt I’ll go,seldom do.
    Plus I’d like to support our growers on OMP.

  3. Love the idea. Someone savvy on website ordering could make it easy to pay in advance and give the supplier notice of what to bring. I would love to see a way to order quantities of meat. Locally grown taste so much better, although there would be complaints from neighboring subdivisions near pastures.

  4. I gave up on the TC downtown market years ago: too crowded, no parking within five blocks, etc. We also tried the CSA for a few years, but there was always more than enough for four or five people, and too much of one thing, so food went to waste. A small market you could actually get to would be worth doing.

  5. Good idea, but separation of market guests is challenging. Some folks love to stop and talk, so one must find a way to allow socializing without stopping movement of other people. Lines won’t work. Stopping and talking can happen where you park, in the aisles between vendors, etc. Some thought has to go into keeping the pleasure of an open farmer’s market alive while establishing rules to protect all.

  6. I would definitely support a local farmers market here on the peninsula. I don’t go downtown anymore either and try to get my produce at the farm stands here on the peninsula.

  7. Downtown Traverse City farmers market is ridiculously busy. I would support an OMP version. Maybe it could be held under the pavilion by the tennis courts in Bowers Harbor Park?

  8. Great idea for all the reasons mentioned! Midweek would be perfect. There is so little parking at Sara Hardy on Wednesday’s that I avoid the TC market on that day.

  9. I drive up the peninsula to shop and also head out towards Elk Rapids to buy produce just to support my neighbors on the peninsula or to buy from the Elk Rapids people. Farmer’s market downtown is not safe right now and I do not like the crowds of tourists, even in a normal year. I am a local.
    OMP farmers market will be a huge hit and maybe easier and more profitable for the farmers.


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