New Manager Brings Fresh Perspective and Energy to Dexter’s Farmers Market

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Another farmers market season has ended, and the movement to local, fresh food sources continues to grow in the Dexter area.

Dexter Farmers Market Manager Marianne Wendt gave her end-of-the-year report to the city council at its Nov 28 meeting.

“This was my first year, so I got to learn a lot, and it's very fun, and hopefully next year we'll learn and grow it more,” said Wendt.

Wendt touched on some of the highlights from the market’s 16th
year. Many new merchants took an interest in Dexter’s market, selling produce, flowers, planters, crafts, clothing, and jewelry, including a new mushroom seller.

During the season, a weekly newsletter was sent out to more than 3,000 subscribers listing merchants and their goods, special events, recipes, a vendor spotlight, and the dog of the week feature. Wendt hopes to keep the newsletter going through the winter months to keep customers informed on the coming season.

The Dexter Farmers Market works with several food assistance programs. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) works with the Double Up program, enabling clients to double their spending on produce. The market works with two senior programs—Senior Market Fresh and Senior Market Bucks from Chelsea Hospital for people over 60, and there is no income requirement.

“It’s a way for seniors to get out and get fresh produce,” said Wendt. “We had a lot of people using that one. I think it’s important, especially since it provides such a good service, and they do it at the Winter Market as well.”

The market earned $4,745 in revenue from vendor fees. To reserve a spot for the whole season, merchants pay $150 for a Saturday space and $60 for Tuesday. Single-day prices are $15 for Saturday and $10 for Tuesday. Total attendance for the season was approximately 13,680.

Saturday markets are much busier than Tuesdays, something Wendt hopes to improve. “We met downtown in Monument Park a couple of times, bringing more awareness. I think we just need more awareness.”

Kids are a big part of the Farmers Market. Girl Scouts and Eagle Scouts reserved a spot for raising funds. The market has a “Kids Biz” program where young entrepreneurs can get their first taste of business. “I love it,” said Wendt. “It’s cool to see them excited about selling something and learning the business part of it.”

In her presentation, Wendt gave a shout-out to Owl Hollow Bakery, which has been selling at the market for 13 years. Other highlights mentioned were the ever-popular free bike maintenance booth, collaborating with the library for a scavenger hunt, a master gardener booth for green thumbs to ask their questions, and a Halloween Dog Costume Contest.

For next year, Wendt hopes to grow the market by increasing awareness and possibly collaborating with big events such as Dexter Daze and Apple Daze. She plans on continuing weekly entertainment, bringing in food trucks, educating the public on food assistance and benefits of shopping locally, and collaborating with other community groups.

“I learned a lot. I love Dexter, and I love this market,” concluded Wendt. “So, I’m excited to do it again next year. I appreciate all of your support.”

Images from Dexter Farmers Market 2022 Report

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