Story by Maddy Baroli
It was a beautiful summer for Kalkaska’s new series of farmer’s markets! A sunny stroll through Railroad Square on a Tuesday afternoon would greet community members with ten unique vendors of local goods and produce, such as Trinity Rose Jams and Jellies, Shetler Dairy, Grand Traverse Culinary Oils and Flours, and Nev’R Done Farm.
The market ran weekly from May 24 through October 11, under the management of Mike Oosterhart and Cash Cook. It grew steadily in popularity as the months went on. Farm to Table ads that promoted the farmers market and local foods ran on WTCM FM and AM, and in The Voice newspaper. Grant funding provided to the LiveWell Kalkaska coalition from District Health Department #10 and the Northwest Michigan Chronic Disease Prevention Coalition paid for the ad campaign.
Kim Chandler of the LiveWell Kalkaska Coalition reported that, “the food environment in Kalkaska has certainly been improved by making local food options more easily accessible to community members.”
One extra draw to the market was the nonprofit booth operated by the Kalkaska County Community Collaborative. Collaborative coordinator Kate Kerr explained that, “the idea was to educate the community on the many services that are provided by area nonprofits and the ways that nonprofit organizations are making our communities healthier and better places to live and work.” Organizations like Michigan Works, the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency, and TrueNorth had the chance to chat with community members, connect them with valuable resources and give out free swag.
Organizers looking ahead to the 2017 season are aiming to attract more vendors that sell fresh produce and provide tips on how to prepare it. A call for vendors has already been published- please help us spread the word! LiveWell members stated that they are especially excited about the prospect of implementing Double Up Food Bucks this season, which matches what customers using a form of SNAP spend provided that it is spent on fresh fruits and vegetables. There is a potential that Livewell Kalkaska will dedicate some more grant money to the market, so we are excited to see what comes next from this community!
Check out their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/kalkaskafarmmarket/?fref=ts
If you are interested in getting involved with the food system of Kalkaska County please contact Kim Chandler from the Livewell Kalkaska Coalition at 231-258-8669 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Southwell Sugar Shack has a natural solution to your sweet tooth
You never know what surprises await at the Kalkaska Farmer’s Market!