Every Wednesday and Saturday morning in Kerrytown, local vendors set up stands in preparation to greet the community and sell goods ranging from freshly laid eggs to handcrafted jewelry at one of Ann Arbor’s best-kept secret — the Ann Arbor Farmers Market.
Located on Detroit Street, the market — which runs from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. — allows customers to buy an array of goods directly from the people who create or cultivate the products, creating a distinct relationship between local producers and consumers.
Market manager Molly Notarianni said the farmers market is notoriously an unknown part of the city for many University students, especially undergraduates.
“I think that older students — graduate students and doctoral students — tend to know about it more, but I think that it is definitely an undiscovered aspect of Ann Arbor for a lot of University students,” Notarianni said.
Notarianni, a University alum, said there is a separation between University students and the Ann Arbor community, citing her own lack of knowledge about the market when she was a student. She added that she hopes current University students will make an effort to learn more about Ann Arbor culture through exploring the farmers market.
“I think it is a really unique way to be connected with the greater community of Ann Arbor,” Notarianni said. “It is a great community event.”
Engineering junior Joe Altizer said he chooses to shop at the farmers market to develop a stronger relationship with his community.
“I feel like it’s more local,” Altizer said. “You get that feeling of Ann Arbor people making and selling the food to you, and that’s definitely an advantage to going there.”
He added he thinks if more students knew about the market, they would choose to shop there as well.
“If they advertised it more, I know students would go there and they would probably fall in love with it,” Altizer said.
Not only is the connection to Ann Arbor a motivation for Altizer to shop at the farmers market, it is also an incentive for businesses to sell their products there.
David Klingenberger, founder and chief fermenting officer at The Brinery — an Ann Arbor based fermenting company, said he started his business by selling local, fermented vegetables at the farmers market a year ago.
“There is no other way I could have built my business as quickly if it wasn’t for the farmers market,” Klingenberger said. “It’s a way for me to directly communicate and sell my products to people and really form relationships and build my business.”
Richard Carpenter, a partner of Carpenter’s Greenhouse & Organic Produce — a business that sells produce at the market — said he values the relationship the market establishes between producers and consumers, adding that he offers a 10-percent discount to University students who present their Mcards.
This discount may offset the slight increase in prices students may encounter when purchasing goods at the farmers market in comparison to a chain grocery store. Carpenter said he recognizes the additional expense, but believes it is a valid tradeoff for the quality of food.
“Some items we have I think prices might be more than say Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, but they are guaranteed fresh,” Carpenter said.
Cynthia Olcott, founder of the jewelry company Cynthetics, said the eco-friendly nature of the market also adds incentive for customers to shop there.
“The goods here are transported short distances, so we aren’t burning up a lot of fossil fuel,” Olcott said. “Environmentally, I think the farmers market is definitely the way to go.”
Many University students who know about the farmers market, however, said they still choose to buy their food from other grocery stores.
LSA sophomore Aerial Rowland said she often shops at Strickland’s Market or takes the bus to Meijer in order to save time and money on food.
“(The farmers market) is not the closest, and I just don’t think I have the money to go buy fresh food,” Rowland said.
According to Notarianni, the market is beginning to collaborate with student groups to help wth promotion, and additionally they have developed a new, evening market that will be held on Wednesday evenings starting June 1 in an attempt to attract more students.