How the Flint Farmers' Market reopening means a fresh start for the summer

FLINT, MI—The Flint Farmers Market, with its plethora of vendors and goods, is a wonderful place to visit and shop during any season, but summer brings out something special. This year, however, the Covid-19 pandemic has put many local businesses on hold, until now.


The Farmers Market will take a gradual approach to its reopening. Since June 2, the Farmers Market has been operating on Tuesdays and Thursdays in June from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. following full social distance guidelines under stage four of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Michigan Safe Start Plan.


Currently, 33 of the 44 vendors have returned for full service for the gradual reopening of the Flint Farmers Market with Market Manager, Karianne Martus, promising a safe experience for both shoppers and vendors.


“We know how much everyone has missed the market. We are so thankful to the community and customers for supporting our small businesses during this shutdown,” said Martus.


Some vendors, like Tees Plentiful Salads, were able to remain operating with curbside pickup during the pandemic shut down.


Tamara Mathis, born and raised in Flint, Michigan, started Tees Plentiful Salads while working at Hurley Medical Center. After delivering salads on her off days and creating over 65 salad recipes, Mathis pitched the idea to the Flint Farmers Market who didn’t hesitate to find a spot for Tees Plentiful Salads on June 16, 2018. Her business continued to grow until the coronavirus pandemic hit and changed everything.


“The pandemic affected me a lot, especially the business,” explained Mathis, who also offers catering. “I had to give a lot of clients refunds due to canceled events. I also had bills and balances from food distributors that I had been using. It was very scary at first and money was getting lower and lower but Karrianne, the management at the market, allowed some of us vendors to start selling curbside. That helped a lot. The grants and loans weren’t as easy to get as some people may think. Small business took a hit, unfortunately.”


As Michigan reopens, small businesses need community support more than ever, and the Flint Farmers Market is a perfect catalyst to make that happen.


“It’s a great place to serve the community here because we get a lot of traffic inside the market and people of all races and cultures. That’s what I really love about it,” said Mathis.


Here some things to remember, while supporting your favorite local businesses at the Flint Farmers Market:


* Customers will be asked to wear a mask or face covering upon entering the market to shop. Grocery workers are among the highest risk category for exposure to Covid-19, therefore the market is taking all reasonable precautions to protect market workers.


* Customers will be allowed in the market through one door and will exit through another designated door, so that management can keep track of the number of people inside the market at any given time.


* All vendors will be wearing masks and gloves as required by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Genesee County Health Department. Vendors will follow ALL rules set forth for safe food preparation and handling. Some vendors will also have plexiglass shields on counters.


* Samples will not be allowed.


* There will be LIMITED public seating available.


* All restrooms will be closed for 5 minutes at the top of each hour so that market cleaning staff can sanitize the area.


* Customers will find Purell touchless hand sanitizer stations throughout the market as well as Clorox Wipe dispensers so that they can clean their hands or wipe off a product as needed while shopping.


So while shopping at the Flint Farmers Market may be different, with a few more rules to follow, it helps bring a bit of normalcy back to Flint. Being able to stroll through and handpick edible jewel-toned treasures for a fresh feast at home is one of the best parts of Michigan summers, one that both customers and vendors need.


“This reopening feels like a fresh start. I feel like we, the vendors, will appreciate our customers and also how much the management at the Farmers market cares for us and this community. This quarantine has really gave me new ideas for my business, and has taught me to really appreciate what I have. I can’t wait to service our community with great salads, even better than before.” assures Mathis.


The Market plans to resume full hours by July 2, with the 11 remaining vendors joining as well. Curbside pickup will also remain operating throughout the rest of June.

Read more articles by Ashley Schafer.

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