GTPulse: Mancelona Farmers Market is Small, Cheery and Open For Business

The past few days I’ve spent surrounded by the sound of birds and a cross breeze coming from my screen door and living room window. The clouds have begun to lift in more ways than one and it feels like the spring I’ve been waiting for. Part of my spring rituals before moving up here consisted of going to my local farmers market. I used to intern as the market manager’s assistant and we would get to the city square early when some of the early morning chill still lingered in the air. Vendors with their fruits, veggies, honey, baked goods and artisan items would trickle in and nothing felt more quintessentially spring than examining the strawberries and rhubarb I would take home for a weekend pie project while feeling the sun graze over my back.

A lot of Northern Michigan has been cleared for responsibility reopening. The local Sara Hardy Farmers Market in Traverse City has had a successful, virtual reopening with customers able to shop online throughout the week and pick up items at set times on market days. The Traverse City Downtown Development Authority worked quickly and efficiently to still make local goods and produce available to shoppers for its normal opening in May and has hopes to physically open in June.

My tiny and beloved Mancelona Farmers Market didn’t turn to making a virtual market for locals.

“I talked with several people and it seemed like everyone wanted to get out. So, we’re following guidelines. We’re outside. Mancelona is small, you know that.”

Bonnie Flynn is the market manager for the Mancelona Farmers Market. She puts together the vendors and is happy to provide fresh food to area locals for another season.

“There are some of the same regulars every week and some that we don’t see as often but they come on a regular basis.”

This year’s market will have old vendors returning and new vendors joining. Several returning farms will bring various produce, and others will bring food items like baked goods. Jamie Creason, owner of the Applesauce Inn in Bellaire will be there with items like scones, pies and more.

The only vendors who haven’t gotten the green light to return yet are makers who provide non-food items. Bonnie has taken care to follow social distancing guidelines and orders on what items are considered essential. She hasn’t yet had her makers and artists return to the market yet.

With Northern Michigan being the state’s example in what reopening may look like for other regions, many residents are preparing for a surge of downstate folks to head up here. The market is set in the town’s Pavilion, a high traffic location in the center of town and passing travelers. 

“We’re right there off 131 so tourists pass by a lot. A lot of people will stop because it’s easy on and easy off.”

The extra patronage is welcome with the hope that all shoppers will follow proper public safety guidelines and with safety guidelines she has put into place to protect vendors and shoppers. Thins like putting extra tables between shoppers and products and putting in handwashing stations. Markets run every Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. from now through October. 

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Categories: GTPulse