Fulton Street Farmers Market provides locally grown food year-round

Founded shortly after World War I, the Fulton Street Farmers Market has provided Grand Rapids with fresh produce for almost a century. Today, the Fulton Street Farmers Market hosts roughly 11,000 shoppers on a typical week and sees more than 200 different vendors throughout the year.

While it’s popularity has ebbed and flowed over the years, FSFM has remained a constant presence in Grand Rapids’ East Side and has witnessed generations of vendors and shoppers interacting face-to-face to buy and sell farm produce (fruits, vegetables, flowers, fresh meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, etc.), flowers and bedding plants, baked goods and other processed food items and arts & crafts.

“The market has endured the introduction of the automobile travel, World War II, the economic upheavals and the introduction of big box stores,” said a representative from the Midtown Neighborhood Association, which was granted operations of the market in 2005. “While the market has not always thrived, it has never faltered.”

According to the Midtown Neighborhood Association, the Fulton Street Farmers Market plays a number of roles in our community. “First, we are the longest surviving market in the Greater Grand Rapids Area having been founded in 1922. The second role is that we offer the Midtown Neighborhood and the surrounding communities access to fresh locally grown produce. Finally, we provide a space (and encouragement) for family farmers, organic farmers and local beginning entrepreneurs.” The market’s popularity has skyrocketed in the past decade with the rise of the organic movement. “Over the past 10 years there has been a big change not only here in Grand Rapids but around the state, a returning to shopping local, to buying from a farmer and to learning about our foods,” said the Midtown Neighborhood Association.

As demand for the market has increased, the need for new technologies and amenities has increased with it. “We’ve supported this rise and embraced the changes (and challenges) it brings to the market.”

One of the changes the market has made is the addition of a new structure this year in order to better support the winter market. In order to adapt to technological advances, the FSFM is participating in a pilot program in which an iPhone app was created that would process several of the food assistant programs. “We are working to test the technology and how it might impact the future of farmers markets.”

Vendors at the Fulton Street Farmers Market must meet certain requirements in order to sell their goods and produce in a stall at the market. The Midtown Neighborhood Association explains that “to become a vendor at the market we require for farmers that they grow 80% of what they sell at the market. They are also required to obtain product liability insurance to cover their product. The same rules are followed for value added food products (i.e. meats, breads, cheese, pies).”

As the year progresses, different produce and goods are offered at the market. “There is still lots of produce throughout the fall including gourds, pumpkins, brussel sprouts, root vegetables and winter squash. In the winter market we have several meat, cheese, bread and baked goods vendors plus lots of root vegetables still throughout the season.”

The Fulton Street Farmers Market is open the first Saturday of May through the last Saturday before Christmas on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. January through April the market is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.