It was a cold and wet Saturday morning as local residents and students went out to the Ypsilanti Freighthouse plaza for the Depot Town Farmers’ Market. Vendors were jumping up and down to stay warm and children dressed up in Halloween costumes were pulled in bright red wagons. The smell of hot apple cider and popcorn was in the air. This marks the second to last of the weekends that the market is outside before it moves to the winter location in the Adams STEM Academy on Oak Street.
This is also the first year that the market has been managed by Growing Hope, a nonprofit organization that aims to give opportunities for fresh food and produce.
“One of the major things that we push for is for Snap and food assistants,” said Dayna Sprentall, a Farmers’ Market assistant and who works for the organization Growing Hope.
The market accepts Bridge Cards, cash and debit cards.
The market has gained popularity through word of mouth and social media. However, it has been going on for 30 years, and has become a core component to the community and families in the area.
Several vendors there had taken over for their parents who had originally started their tent. One woman, Barb, had been doing Farmers’ Markets for more than 30 years alongside her husband. Her parents had originally started selling produce before she took over. They sell some imported items that might be out of season at their local farm, like strawberries and celery, but for the most part it’s all grown by them on their farm in Ida, Mich.
Crystal Green, daughter to Maggie of Maggie’s Baked Goods, has been a key vendor in many markets around the Ypsilanti area,.
“We have good developing relationships with the community,” said Green.
One of the main reasons these markets have been a success and will continue is the building of relationships – not just between vendors and shoppers, but of vendors to vendors and shoppers to shoppers.
Vicki Cilke and Mike Bargardi have been neighboring vendors for this year’s market. This is Vicki Cilke’s first year in this location selling her vegetables. She owns a stand near her farm in Milan.
“It’s a great market,” Cilke said.
Bargardi has been coming to Depot Town market for the last 5 years. A technology and English teacher by day, he is a homemade spice maker by night.
“I did not like what you could buy in the stores with ingredients with names I could not pronounce,” said Bargardi.
A vendor named Rob Hess serves samples of his homemade ice cream right out of the back of a freezer attached to his bike. He runs a company called Go! Ice Cream. His seasonal ice cream, which he currently sells in pints, is pumpkin and butterscotch rum.
A tent new to the Farmers’ Market this year was the Moon Harvest Society tent. Started by two Ypsilanti women, MHS for short combines all the freshness from the farmers’ market with the odd findings from across the word. Featured items include Uncle Lefty’s apple pie, in which the secret ingredient is whiskey and vodka, as well as chocolate-covered strawberry jam and lavender hot chocolate.
The creators of MHS said their main goal is to combine wonderful-tasting and unique food items with herbs that help health issues. The lavender in their hot chocolate is meant to lull consumers to sleep after a cup. They also make perfumes and soaps with herbs in them as well.
This coming Saturday is the last outside Depot Town Farmers’ Market for the year.
“[We’re] ending with a bang,” said Sprentall.
The “bang” will be a fall festival, moved from the plaza to Cross Street. The market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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