Talk about raising the roof! Grand Rapids’ popular Fulton Street Farmers Market is undergoing a $2.7 million upgrade converting it into a year-around enterprise. In three months, the snows of winter adorning the construction site will be replaced by fruits of spring when the Market opens the first Saturday in May. Meanwhile 10-14 farmers are selling their produce on Saturdays from 10-1 in the Salvation Army’s Fulton Street parking lot at the Fuller intersection.
For the first time since the Market opened as the “East Side Market” in 1922, it will have a permanent roof, seen in the photo. The farm families who fill the stalls will also have electricity for the first time. That means refrigeration for produce in the summer and heat if they need it. A new small building with indoor stalls will be opened for business next winter. And, as with all building projects The Wege Foundation supports, the new facility will be LEED-certified.
The thousands of area residents who regularly buy their fresh produce here will find smoother traffic flows and a wider aisle making it easier for shoppers – especially moms with strollers – to move around. Shoppers with Bridge Cards will also have an easier time picking up the Food Bucks tokens that allow them to buy fruits and vegetables for half price. Last summer the FSFM and the Fair Food Network distributed $221,000 worth of federal Supplemental Nutrition Action Program (SNAP) benefits and Food Bucks enabling eligible shoppers to buy healthy, locally grown food.
As of January 12, 2012, the Midtown Neighborhood Association that manages the Market had raised $2,034,053 towards the final goal of $2,646,805. The final improvements planned for the Fulton Market – including two sets of wheelchair-accessible restrooms – will begin when the capital campaign’s goal has been reached.