Ellie Dudzinski, 17 months, and her father, Matt, of Wyandotte, make friends with a cow in a petting zoo run by Farmer John and His Barnyard Express at the Wyandotte Farmer’s Market Thursday.
By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE — Farmers, shoppers and even a few barnyard pets turned out Thursday for the season opening of the Wyandotte Farmer’s Market.
The market, at the corner of First and Elm streets, is sponsored by the Downtown Development Authority and the Wayne County Community Action Agency. It hosts area vendors who sell produce and other locally grown goods each Thursday from 1 to 6 p.m through Oct. 6.
DDA Director Natalie Rankine said the market helps local vendors by giving them a place to sell their wares in an otherwise tough economy. Downtown businesses also benefit from the increased traffic downtown. For shoppers, buying locally grown produce helps reduce the cost of the gas used to ship it and results in an overall fresher product.
“I can’t tell you how many things I bought at the farmer’s market and they’re still good a week later,” Rankine said. “That doesn’t happen when I buy it at the grocery store.”
The market began last summer with about eight vendors, but this year has 16. This summer also will see more special programs at the market, including crafts and entertainment for children. Thursday’s opening included a visit from Farmer John and His Barnyard Express, who brought along a petting zoo with pigs, goats and other farm animals, and a sidewalk chalk art contest for children.
Upcoming events include Go Green at the market July 7, which includes a children’s art contest using recycled materials and eco-friendly tips for adults. Aug. 4 will be Play with Your Food at the Market, in which children can make creations from fruits and vegetables and adults can take in cooking demonstrations.
Vendors pay $10 a week to take part in the market, with the first week free. Bob Beaudette, who owns Wyandotte-based Kettle Corn of Michigan Inc., said his company is able to turn a profit at the market despite the increased cost of supplies to pop his variety of kettle corn flavors, ranging from butter to Jamaican jerk. The people, though, are what keeps bringing him back.
“The other vendors here are all friendly,” he said. “We all get along. The neat thing is you have farmers bringing stuff in right from the field. That’s the freshest vegetables you can get.”
Despite morning rain showers Thursday, turnout was so strong that all fresh produce sold out within the first hour. Higher volumes of produce are expected to be available as the summer goes on.
Some of that produce will be furnished by students from Roosevelt High School, who grow it near the school’s football field and sell it at the market as part of their summer botony/agriculture program, with the proceeds going back to fund the program and provide stipends for the students involved. Instructor Bob Johnson said selling the produce is an
integral part of the program.
“In the classroom you can study plants, but I think that you gain more out of that study if you see that there are career opportunities,” he said. “We would hope that some of the kids would begin to think of what they are going to do and it’s nice to have a business model to work from.”
Scott Goniea, of Wyandotte-based Michigan Fresh Roasted Coffee, which is being showcased at the market for the second year, said his sales are always good at the market.
“The vendors here are top notch,” he said. “Wyandotte always has a good turnout.”
Judy Coffee, of Woodhaven, said she was excited to come back to the market this year after frequenting it last year.
“I think it’s neat,” she said. “ I can’t wait until vegetables start coming in.”