The Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) has a mission to create a thriving marketplace for local food and farm products. Being a MIFMA member provides farmers markets and the farmers and vendors who sell at farmers markets the opportunity to reach this mission through an established set of member benefits. We recently had the privilege of interviewing MIFMA member, Jeremy Brown, Market Manager of the Oakland County Market.
Tell us about the Oakland County Farmers Market? How would you describe the atmosphere?
Established in 1922 and at its current location since 1953, the market welcomes more than 300,000 visitors annually. The venue is a mainstay for providing grower-direct fresh produce and flowers to county residents and visitors.
During the main season, the market is operated as a producer-direct farmer’s market venue, requiring all vendors to grow or produce the goods they sell. The 14-acre market site consists of a 7,453-square-foot building with 38 indoor stalls, 32 outdoor stalls under a canopy, 20 non-sheltered stalls, parking for 268 vehicles, an orchard and adjacent woodlot.
The market has a real sense of community. We have many farmers that have been coming to the market for many years and their families have grown up here. The same can be said for the customers as well.
What are your hours of operation? Do you operate year-round?
January through April: Saturday only 7:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
May through December: Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday 7:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
We are aware that you have three certified market managers working for the Oakland County Farmers Market. How do you feel having certified staff has benefited your market over the years?
When I became the market manager in 2012, I received my certification right away and it gave me a solid foundation in market management. I don’t think anyone is really prepared for the dynamics that make up a farmers market and it made me better prepared.
My two assistant managers just completed the certification this past winter and it really gave them a boost in confidence. I am a big proponent of creating a sense of ownership among my staff and, now that they are certified, it really helps to achieve that.
What is one thing that every MIFMA member should know about your market?
The Oakland County Market has always had a strong foundation of farmers and artisans, but since Oakland County Parks & Recreation assumed the management we have moved forward and are doing new things that really make for a good market like accepting food assistance benefits, hosting special events, and providing educational programming. We have basically reinvented this market and breathed new life into it.
The Oakland County Farmers Market is a MIFMA member market. Why is being a member of MIFMA important to you?
Being a member of MIFMA is important to us because it has given us access to important continuing education as well the accumulated knowledge of so many other market managers.
As some markets prepare for a new season to start up this spring, what advice would you give them?
Use this new season to make changes that are good for the market. Sometimes we can be afraid to make changes out of fear of upsetting a few vendors and we shouldn’t be. Have the courage to make the changes that are good for the market as a whole and, in retrospect, those few will see the good that has come from those changes.
Are you on social media? If so, how can members connect with you?
We are currently using Facebook and you can find us at www.facebook.com/OakCountyMarket
You can also visit the Oakland County Market online – click here!
Interested in learning more about MIFMA member benefits and how to become a member? Click here
Are you a current MIFMA member and would like to be featured in a MIFMA newsletter? Have something fun to share about your business or organization? Email Samantha Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org.