Renovated Kalamazoo Farmers Market opens to clear skies after cold spring

KALAMAZOO, MI – Residents of Kalamazoo encountered clear skies Saturday for the opening day of the Kalamazoo Farmers Market at the newly renovated Bank Street location.

The market was temporarily moved to Mayors Riverfront Park in 2021, with the first phase of renovations completed at 1024 Bank St.

The first phase of the renovation, which included adding more booth space to accommodate 160 vendors from the previous 110, improving accessibility and extending the overflow car park. The second phase will include an event space that can be used all year round.

Parking lots were full on Saturday, May 7, as throngs of attendees roamed vendors. Some attendees interviewed by MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette said they appreciated the return to a concrete location after a year on the grassy area of ​​Mayors Riverfront Park.

Rudy Colantonio liked the new structure for the sense of permanence it offers.

“I like the atmosphere here a lot more,” Colantonio said. “More permanent, more pleasant. There’s a much livelier atmosphere probably because of those things.

Colantonio, who frequented the Farmers Market for several years, brought Gabrielle Cerbervill on her second trip to the Bank Street location. Cerbervill stressed the need for communities to have access to fresh food.

“It’s important for communities to know who’s growing their food, because then they feel more ownership of what they eat, they feel more invested in their community, and they’re helping real people,” Cerbervill said.

RELATED: Kalamazoo Farmers Market returns home after multi-million dollar renovation

The new location provides more shelter than the old ground at the temporary location of Mayors Riverfront Park.

Andrea Tannhauser, who has been going to the Farmers Market for 30 years, recalled times when the weather was less than favorable.

“It looks like we are getting more people and more will be under shelter,” Tannhauser said. “I remember years when it was 15 degrees in October and November. Sellers will be more comfortable here, I’m sure.

Tannhauser was looking for fresh asparagus. She buys at the Farmers Market because the food is fresher and more nutritious, she says. Tannhauser appreciated the improved location and hopes it will encourage farmers to supply more produce.

“I hope this will give farmers the opportunity to expand what they grow,” Tannhauser said. “I just wish there were five other vendors who sell asparagus as if it were plants they can grow in a field rather than in greenhouses. Greenhouses are great, but I wish they had more confidence that people are buying their food and will plan accordingly. »

One of the reasons for the shortage of certain products could be the cold spring of this season. Third-generation Bangor farmers Susan DeLeo and her husband Douglas DeLeo were unable to bring in the full amount of produce they grow and instead opted to bring in plants that people could use to grow crops. their own products.

“We’re branching out into factories, so we have something to sell this year,” Susan DeLeo said. “Right now the only thing we have is asparagus and it wasn’t ready for this week. Next week will be fine, so that gives us other things to sell.

They have been frequenting the Kalamazoo Farmers Market for 51 years and consider the new facility to be “phenomenal”. They carry on the tradition of their grandparents who started frequenting the market in the 1930s. In the future, they hope to make the transition to becoming an organic farm, but the process can take up to six years.

“We changed our farming methods to use less and less chemicals,” Douglas DeLeo said. “We’re grazing things more naturally and we’re really encouraged to improve the health and longevity of people’s lives.”

Maria Brennan’s business, the Victorian Bakery, has been a staple of the Kalamazoo Farmer’s Market for 18 seasons. Brennan appreciates customers stopping by their physical location at 512 N. Park St. after finding them at the Kalamazoo Farmers Market.

“Especially the first market, you see a lot of kids that you haven’t seen in the winter,” Brennan said of customers who come with their families. “They sometimes go into the bakery, but that’s different. It’s outside, it’s more alive here.

Remi Harrington was present representing Zoo City Farm and Food Network. She supported the need to expose young children to the farmer’s market.

“My daughter is the kid who grew up with this center,” Harrington said. “I think it’s important that we bring our kids so they can have this as a benchmark in their upbringing to prioritize local food and support local businesses like this.”

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