The Big 100!

. July 31, 2019.
Three generations of Whitneys: Matthew and Malaika with baby Able, and grandpa John, on the farm. Photo by Dawn Nelson
Three generations of Whitneys: Matthew and Malaika with baby Able, and grandpa John, on the farm. Photo by Dawn Nelson

The Ann Arbor Farmers Market’s centennial features family-friendly festivities

This year the Ann Arbor Farmers Market celebrates a century of bringing local food to the community. To commemorate the occasion the Farmers Market will host its 100-year birthday celebration on Saturday, August 17 with free ice cream from Washtenaw Dairy and activities throughout the day. Parents can enjoy listening to the Reed Trio from the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra (performances at 12 and 1 p.m.) while kids can explore the musical instrument petting zoo for discovery learning in the morning and early afternoon (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). But the celebration is much more than just one day! The Ann Arbor downtown library is hosting a public reception for the 100th birthday celebration on Wednesday, August 14 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Families find nutrition, resilience and fun

A local farm market is valuable to families as it meets multiple needs—accessing fresh, nutritional foods, meeting friends and having fun and connecting with a resourceful community network can all be accomplished on a single trip to the market. The Ann Arbor Farmers Market staff understands this value and works to cultivate resources and programs to accentuate those attributes.

“We’ve been trying to reach out to more community groups to schedule more kids’ activities,” said Stephanie Willette, Market Manager. “We’ve started with first Wednesdays and are filling in from there.” Staff members are working with teachers and school groups to set up learning stations about local food by engaging kids with activities such as coloring and scavenger hunts.

On the first Wednesday of every month, fun kids’ activities take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with events hosted in partnership with Leslie Science and Nature Center, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, St. Joe’s Farm and others. The Food Truck Rally is from 5 to 8 p.m., with games including a bean bag toss and Connect 4. Afterwards, circus performers come out and folks can enjoy doughnuts and ice cream before the outdoor movie begins at dusk. This month features “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” on August 7, and in September, “A Star is Born” on September 4.

 Photo by Dawn Nelson

Photo by Dawn Nelson

Fostering community through local farms

While this season’s events add to the growing collection of photographs and memories, there is an opportunity to contribute your own story about connection with the Farmers Market for the oral history collection. You can also learn about the market at the Ann Arbor District Library’s downtown exhibit through the end of August, which details the history of farms bringing fresh food into town over the last century.

Many farms such as Nemith, Wassam, Kapnick, and Tantre have been coming to the market for decades. Some farmers return to the market as part of a long line of generational farming.

Whitney Farmstead is a fifth generation farm whose history includes bringing peaches and cream to local markets a century ago by horse drawn cart! Today, celebrating the sixth generation of the Whitney family farmstead with the arrival of baby Able, age 1, Malaika and Matthew Whitney, along with grandpa John Whitney have reinvigorated the family farm with regenerative agriculture practices. While tending to more than 80 cattle, pigs and sheep, and 100 birds, the Whitneys find it is very beneficial to divide the labor as a family-run farm. They enjoy bringing a diversity of products to market. “The Ann Arbor Farmers Market is important to us,” the Whitneys shared. “We love the personal connection with our customers.”

Market access options

The Farmers Market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., with free parking on Wednesdays in the market lot. The market offers several payment options including credit cards or SNAP benefits cards and Double-up Food Bucks through the market office, at 315 Detroit Street, on market days. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are also accessible at the Farmers Market through the WIC Project Fresh program for low-income families, making it truly accessible for the whole community.

To find out more about WIC Project Fresh and to pick up market coupons, contact the main Washtenaw County WIC Office at734-544-6800. For information or updates on the centennial celebration and photo stories, visit the Farmers Market on social media @AnnArborFarmersMarket, @A2Market or contact staff at 734-794-6000 ext. 42575.