Two U.P. farmers markets to get funding

Two Upper Michigan Farmers Markets are included in a major funding package from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.  The MEDC today announced Michigan Strategic Fund approval of $200,000 in grants for 10 farmers markets around the state. Those include the City of Gladstone Farmers Market and Marquette Downtown Development Authority/Marquette Farmers Market.

The City of Gladstone is creating a multi-purpose area in a downtown parking lot to be used for the city’s farmer market and other local activities.  The effort will receive matching funds of $69,740 with a grant of $50,000 from the MEDC.

The Marquette Commons will be revamped to better meet the needs of the farmers market by making it more aesthetically pleasing and adding needed amenities. The matching funds are in the amount of $43,623 with a grant of $24,537.

“Farmers markets improve our downtowns and bring vitality and a sense of place to our communities,” said MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney. “These grants will support local markets, strengthen communities and create jobs in our state.”

The farmers markets chosen for today’s awards are located in Delhi Charter Township, Gladstone, Marquette, Boyne City, Port Sanilac, Gaylord, Chelsea, East Lansing, Grand Ledge and Canton Township. The winning projects will provide $269,450 in matching funds.

Announced in June, the Farmers Market Grant Program provides one-time grants between $10,000 and $50,000 to existing farmers markets that have been in operation for at least four years in Michigan. Projects for consideration included unique and innovative design elements, amenities for patrons and vendors, multi-use spaces, multi-modal transportation, marketing and signage. Projects that make markets more accessible to residents were also given preference.

A total of 24 applications requesting $677,904 were submitted to the 2013 Farmers Market Grant Program. Representatives from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Michigan Farmers Market Association participated on the scoring team.

“Michigan’s community farmers markets have helped re-energize the enthusiasm for connecting with our agricultural roots. As a matter of fact, Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for the number of farmers markets,” said Jamie Clover Adams, Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Our farmers markets are a great place to sample the diversity of our agriculture and get a taste of Pure Michigan.”

A second round of food entrepreneurship grants, this one aimed at the food truck industry in Michigan, will be announced within the next two to three weeks.