By Lonnie Huhman,
The Dexter Farmers’ Market has a new manager and she’s excited about the new season.
New manager Dana Queen was hired in late March. She said her number one goal is to increase attendance.
“We’ve got just about anything you might be looking for at a small market,” she said, and noted weather permitting “it takes time for veggies to start growing in Michigan.”
“I want to make sure people know it’s happening, what’s there and what they’ll see, in hopes that one or all of these will motivate attendance!” she said. “We have SNAP and “Double Up Food Bucks” food assistance benefits this year and we are reachable by bus! I’d like to let folks know they can come, no matter what!”
Her experience and qualifications for the role start with her upbringing and path in life.
She said her mother, while growing up in Texas, learned her gardening skills from her grandmother, which she passed onto Queen.
“I was born and raised in Ann Arbor and started having horse lessons in Dexter in 1994,” Queen said. “Eventually, I bought a horse and spent even more time around the village. In 2001, I sold my horse and went to college in Indiana. As it turns out, I hated college and loved horses, gardening and more rustic endeavors, and luckily, I met and married a man with similar passions.”
She said after her first child was born she became so prolific in her crochet projects that she and her sister Beth began to sell them in a booth in front of her house to passing University of Michigan football fans on game days.
“As our expertise increased we opened an Etsy shop, attended a few craft fairs and had a booth at the Northville Farmers Market,” she said.
It was in 2015, that she and her family came to Dexter.
“When the time came for my husband and I to buy a house, we were so happy to find one just outside Dexter,” she said.
She and her husband have three boys while her husband, Jon, works as a mechanic in Ann Arbor. She said many days she stays at home with the kids and is in the process of landscaping and building a vegetable garden, where there hasn’t been any for a long time.
She said other relevant experience also includes her working in countless food service settings, where she held the position of manager several times.
She has also been playing piano since age seven and singing since birth, and participated in theater growing up. In addition to performance and behind-the-scenes experience, she was also on staff for one year at the North American International Auto Show.
“I’m hoping to use that to make the events at the market fun and engaging, so it’s not just food and crafts, but activities that people can all do at once,” she said. “The experts say that patrons want not just farmers, but a festival feel at the market.”
What drew her to the job, she said, is that she is very entrepreneurial, “but I don’t have a lot of money to start businesses!”
“I enjoy thinking of ways imaginary businesses might run and prosper, so I’d like to bring that passion to the market and help many businesses at once,” she said. “This is, of course, built on my love of food, gardening and business ownership.”
She said both of her parents were psychologists while she pursued social work, sociology and psychology in college, so she has always felt very strongly about supporting the local community of small farms and bringing customers to the market that might not necessarily think they can afford to attend.
“I wanted to make sure these things were being protected and facilitated in my neighborhood,” she said and added, “I’m not going to lie, though: I like the title! I feel proud to be the manager and want to make it a thing to be prouder of!”
In preparation for this season, Queen has been meeting with the market managers from Ann Arbor and Chelsea to learn some tricks of the trade. Looking ahead, she said she’s hoping to increase the market’s presence on the internet with the city expecting a new website in the future. She said she will be communicating through the city of Dexter Facebook page and is in the early stages of an email/postal monthly newsletter.
“I’m also getting to know my vendors and what they’d like to see,” she said. “Right now, I’m in an information and opinion gathering phase to see where we should aim.”
So what’s her first official message to the community?
“We plan to have activities or themes and performers at every market,” she said. “There are lots of vendors, especially on Saturday; you can do half your grocery shopping here! Veggies, fruit, bread, eggs, honey, cookies, soap and gifts or treats for yourself! I’m working on recruiting meat and cheese vendors.”
She further said, “I’d like them to know about SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks, which is where some bridge benefits are $2 in value, but $1 is charged to their account.
And finally, she said they still need some vendors for Tuesdays and also have openings for performers (music, theater, art and craft demos, etc) that they’d like to fill.
To reach Queen or for more information, call 734-426-8303 or email email@example.com.
This will be the market’s 14th season on Alpine Street, next to the Dexter District Library. It’s open May through October on Saturdays from 8 a.m to 1 p.m. and Tuesdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.