Yes, it's almost August and this is my first Farmer's Market post of the summer. Why the delay? Let me explain. I could say I've been out of town on Fridays this summer and haven't gone to the market. Which is mostly true. However, the real reason is that the Dearborn Farmer's and Artisan Market has been a real disappointment this year. It is under new management and many of the vendors from previous years are not back. I went about a month ago and there was only one produce vendor. ONE. If you ask me, a farmer's market needs to have more than bread, cookies, jams, soap, and crafty items. Those things are fine to have (you know I LOVE my soap!) but they have to be in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables. After that I didn't go back.
Today I decided to give it another chance. Well, mostly I wanted to buy soap (shocking, I know) but I figured I'd take a look around and see what else was there. It was better than last month but still not good. In total there were 5 produce vendors - 3 selling vegetables, 1 selling fruit, and 1 selling both vegetables and fruit. The rest were artisans with bread and cookies, pies, plates, candles, jewelery, wooden boxes, jams, and wired art. The Dearborn Animal Shelter had dog cookies and Oakwood Hospital was doing free blood pressure screening. Binell Bros. were sharpening knives. All that is fine and good but only 5 produce vendors? Seriously? And my favorite, Farmer Glen, didn't come back this year with his "no spray" carrots and parsnips. He's been a stand-by since year one.
I did pick up some cherries, a bunch of kale, and one cucumber. And my Cellar Door Soaps, of course. Today's selections were Patchouli Bergamot, Cherries Jubilee, and Jaguar Fever.
The Dearborn Farmer's Market has always been small but it had been growing from year to year. Until this year. Now there are significantly fewer vendors and with that you inevitably have fewer customers. There are extended market hours - until 3pm instead of 1pm - but it doesn't sound like that's helping to swell the crowds. Or bring in the vendors.
I'm not sure what's going to happen to our market next year. Unless they can get more produce vendors, I don't see how they will be sustainable as a farmer's market. I'd love to see Dearborn turn it around and make a go of it. Sadly, I think they may have lost this season but my hope is that next season will be better.
What do you love about your local farmers market?