Muskegon taking farmers market downtown

The city has just broke ground on construction of the new downtown location for the farmers market.

In an effort to continue the redevelopment of the downtown area, Muskegon has broken ground on a brand new location for the city’s Farmers Market. The 2013 season will mark the last year that the market will be operating at its current location on Yuba St.

The move to the downtown location will continue the Muskegon Downtown Development Corporation’s work to help revitalize and infuse new business into the downtown area. The market will have a hefty price tag of nearly $4 million but the price should be well worth it. The city is hoping that this new market secures Muskegon as a place in the up-and-coming food destination that is West Michigan.

While the current location struggles from a lack of parking, adequate water/electricity for vendors, and an outdated structure, the new market will feature:

  • 400 parking spots within 1 block of market
  • A year-round activity center and indoor market area
  • 130+ lighted vendor stalls with water, electricity, and all-weather roof
  • Easy access to bus and public transportation
  • A community kitchen
  • Public restrooms and welcome center

The addition of a year-round activity center and indoor market space as well as a community/incubator kitchen make the new Muskegon Market different and more exciting from the more traditional farmers market venue. With these additions and a downtown location, residents and local business owners are optimistic that the market can help spur economic development for the city. A recent report from the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments demonstrated how Food Innovation Districts can be a central piece of an area’s economic development plan, and many of these districts have a farmers market as the centerpiece.

While the market move is an exciting prospect for many, there are some concerns by community members who don’t see the move as necessary. The transition to a new location for vendors and customers may take some time once the market opens next year, but look for the new facility to offer more parking, educational opportunities, and business opportunities for the areas residents. It should not take long for the new market to weave its way into the social fabric of Muskegon, and become a point of pride within the community.

Michigan State University Extension has committed to the development of community food systems across the state. Farmers markets are seen as a great tool for helping a community move forward with local food systems work. Visit our “find an expert” website, and search topic “community food systems” to find an MSU Extension educator in your area who can assist your community with farmers market issues and development.

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