If You Go
What: Heights City Market
Where: 99 Center Street, Muskegon Heights
When: Noon-6 p.m. every Friday through September 30
By Teresa Taylor Williams
There’s a fresh buzz on Center Street in downtown Muskegon Heights on Friday afternoons.
The Heights City Market, also known as the Muskegon Heights Farmers Market, is well underway and attracting attention after nearly five years of inactivity.
From noon to 6 p.m., the public may purchase an array of fresh produce such as tomatoes, cucumbers, greens, cabbage, blueberries, melons, squash, zucchini and peppers. Other items available for purchase include gourmet cheese, farm fresh eggs, popcorn and baked goods.
Located on the Muskegon Area Transit System bus line, the small strip of vendor stalls is in an ideal location. In the heart of downtown Muskegon Heights, the City Market is across the street from Muskegon Heights City Hall, and also Department of Human Services.
The revitalization of the City Market is made possible by grants from the United States Department of Agriculture ($35,000) and the Community Foundation for Muskegon County ($8,500). Those funds will be used for refurbishing, staffing, and marketing and promotional incentives to attract the public.
` The Muskegon Heights Farmers Market thrived for nearly two decades, but saw a decline in interest after Plumb’s Valu-Rite Foods was built in 1993 across the street. The store closed in 2013, and since then, there’s been no consistent source of fresh fruits and vegetables, according to Gordie Moeller, Heights City Market Manager.
The number of patrons is slowly increasing, and Muskegon Heights city officials hope to expand and even offer cooking classes, similar to the Muskegon Farmers Market.
For Mayor Kimberley Sims, she loves what the market represents: community.
“It’s almost like a communal spot, a watering hole where kids and everyone can come. You can feel the pulse of the community there,” said Sims. “I can spend money in my community and get everything I need to make my mango salsa. To me, in the summer, there’s no need to go to big box stores for fresh foods, you just go to the Farmers Market.”
The fresh market accepts Bridge cards, WIC Project Fresh, and Double Up Food Bucks, which allows Bridge card holders to essentially double their food dollar when they purchase Michigan grown produce with their EBT card. To promote the market and attract patrons, coupons for $2 off purchases may be found throughout the city at Muskegon Heights Library, Muskegon Family Care and Muskegon Heights City Hall.
According to Moeller, the farmers market was re-established to provide more accessible fresh produce for the people of Muskegon Heights.
“Family Dollar and some corner liquor stores have frozen vegetables, but there are no fruits and vegetables in the vicinity of Muskegon Heights,” said Moeller. “We want to make it so that everyone can afford fresh, local foods.”