Hazel Park Growers and Makers Market opening soon

Fresh produce available at low prices Sundays at Green Acres Park

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published June 13, 2016

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HAZEL PARK — Those looking for fresh produce at low prices can look forward to the grand opening of the Hazel Park Growers and Makers Market this Sunday, June 19.

The market, located in Green Acres Park behind the Recreation Center at Woodward Heights and Lennox, will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Sunday from June 19 through Sept. 9, taking a break Aug. 28 for the Hazel Park Art Fair.

There are already five vendors ready to sell a variety of produce locally sourced in Michigan. The market also has USDA approval to accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and in the future, shoppers can get twice the value with the Double Up Food Bucks program, so they can spend $20 and get $40 worth of food, for example. The market is also looking into support for other programs as well, such as Women, Infants & Children, and Senior Project Fresh. 

The market is also still accepting new vendors, who can rent a space for $100 and sell produce there all season. Anyone with questions should contact the market organizers via email at hpgmmarket@gmail.com or through their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/hazelpark

The market managers are Jennifer Jackson and Leigh McLaughlin, both Hazel Park residents, who attended a training program by the Michigan Farmers Market Association run through a Michigan State University Extension in Jackson. They are now certified farmers market managers. They were surprised to learn how complex and nuanced the rules and regulations are for a market.

Jackson and McLaughlin are also members of the newly formed market board in Hazel Park, joined by fellow Hazel Park residents Rich Parisi and Renee Patterson. They’ve been working closely with City Manager Ed Klobucher and Assistant City Manager Jeff Campbell to make the market a reality.

“The city has bent over backwards for us,” McLaughlin said. “One of the things that Hazel Park is working on is creating more places for folks to gather and socialize and have a bit of fellowship with each other. We’re hoping that with the covered pavilions in the park here, people at the market will visit each other and talk to each other. The market will be a more casual atmosphere where the kids can run around and the adults can sit and chat, and maybe have something to eat or drink from one of the vendors, or just have a good time.”

The market will also be good for the health and well-being of local families.

“One of the first things that I’ve noticed when I grocery shop is how expensive produce is now,” McLaughlin said. “If we can offer folks a way to get that produce that is so sorely needed, and in a way that’s easier on their budgets, that’ll be great. But folks will also appreciate knowing where their food is from — who grew it, and that it was grown in Michigan. In this day and age, most folks want to know where their food comes from, so it’ll be nice to offer them this.”

She added that they hope to attract not only people from Hazel Park, but also from neighboring cities like Ferndale and Madison Heights as well. She said the parking is more accommodating at Green Acres Park compared to farmers markets in other cities.

“We have room for everyone here,” McLaughlin said. “We’re hoping this will become a staple.”

Jackson said in an email that they’re also thinking up activities for the kids.

“One of my focuses going forward … will be trying to establish some really fun events for the children, giving them something fun and free to look forward to every week,” Jackson said. At press time, she planned to meet with the city’s Arts Council June 13 to discuss this topic. “(I want) to see what they would like to bring to the table to entertain our little ones.

“Also, (we could have) themed events every weekend — possibly classes on gardening and harvesting food,” she said. “We also want local charities to set up a booth with us so that they may fundraise and be able to have an audience they may not have had in the past.”

Campbell said he sees the market as a way to educate people.

“The hope is you get parents and young kids out here, and the young kids learn about nutrition and how good these organic and local foods can taste, and the value that brings to the household,” Campbell said. “It’s about improving quality of life for these residents. They deserve to have these kinds of things available to them, and they’ve been clamoring for (a farmers market) for years.”

Andy LeCureaux, a member of Hazel Park City Council, said the farmers market will also give residents a stronger sense of ownership in their community, something he already sees happening at a community garden in a double lot on Vassar across from Tuski Park.

“Kids have been there (at the garden) sampling all kinds of foods they haven’t tried,” LeCureaux said. “That’s one reason I’m excited about this farmers market. It’s fresh, it’s healthy; it’s a do-it-yourself farm-to-table experience, rather than going to a restaurant. I think this will build on itself. It’s inspiring of us to eat healthy and do away with processed food.”