Rochester eyes year-round farmers market

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 28, 2017


ROCHESTER — Residents of the Rochester area may soon have a farmers market they can visit throughout the year.

Rochester Downtown Development Authority Director Kristi Trevarrow said the DDA and the Principal Shopping District are looking into the idea of a year-round farmers market following the results of a downtown visioning session at the Royal Park Hotel in April.

“The No. 1 thing that came out of the visioning session was a year-round farmers market … so that is why we are doing research and due diligence into figuring out if it is feasible,” she explained.

To see if enough residents would support a market in the winter, the PSD — which runs the farmers market — decided to offer its first Downtown Rochester Winter Farmers Market, which was held inside the Rochester fire station on Saturdays from November through January.

PSD Chairman Alan Smith, who owns the Rochester Ballroom, said 12-14 vendors participated in the winter market, although far more wanted to get in.

“I went down many of the Saturdays,” he said during a City Council update on the concept. “Some of the vendors were sold out by lunchtime or 1 p.m., so the feedback was very, very strong for the small test that we did.”

Following the success of the winter market, the DDA — which owns the lot that the current summer market is held on — hired Saroki Architecture to look into the feasibility of constructing a building there, at the corner of East Third and Water streets, one block east of Main Street.

“It’s still at the very basic stages right now,” Trevarrow explained. “We are looking at our existing farmers market site, and we hired an architect to start doing renderings to figure out if it is feasible, what size building we could put there. Then, based on that size of building, what would construction costs be? He’s been doing research on other markets to figure out exactly what types of things would have to happen, the building infrastructure and all that kind of stuff. That is due back to the board sometime this summer.”

The decision will ultimately come down to the numbers.

“The board really does want it — so does the PSD; so does the community — but the biggest thing the board needs to decide is, do the numbers work? Is it something that we think is going to work for us? So that is our next step,” Trevarrow said. “This summer, we will have the information we need to start having those discussions.”

If the DDA decides to move forward, Trevarrow said, the concept would have to go before the PSD, the Planning Commission and the City Council.

“There are many miles to go before we can do this. This is not something that we can do by ourselves,” she said. “It takes a village.”

Now in its 18th season, the Downtown Rochester Farmers Market offers patrons a wide variety of Michigan-grown or made products — including vegetables, fruits, flowers, container gardens, fresh-cut flowers, herbs, homemade baked goods, gnocchi, jams and jellies, honey, maple syrup, tea blends, locally roasted coffee, and various certified organic products, including eggs, beef and chicken — from May through October. This year’s market runs 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 28.

For more information, call the Rochester DDA at (248) 656-0060.