Fallout continues in the wake of Farmer Q’s closing up shop downtown.
The shutdown was precipitated, the owners say, by the persistent opposition to them by local farmers and the Marquette Food Co-op at the Farmers’ Market.
Farmer Q’s sold produce from downstate. Their fruit and vegetables were attractive and popular but they weren’t technically “local.” Foul, cried the local farmers. Unfair!
Well, they won. Farmer Q’s has pulled up stakes and abandoned Marquette and the Farmer’s Market.
Which means, according to one wag on Facebook, that we’ll now have a scintillating selection of cucumbers, zucchinis and handmade soap to choose from at the Farmers’ Market. A bit of an exaggeration, perhaps, but there’s some truth to it.
Farmer Q’s plentiful and colorful fruits and vegetables drew many of us to the market on Saturday mornings. Now, that draw will be gone, the crowds could very well shrink, and the market, which the Downtown Development Authority has turned into a remarkable success, could suffer in the short run.
The question that has to be asked: Who is supposed to benefit from the Farmers Market?
1) The local farmers, who are from outside the city and don’t pay city taxes? They pay less than three dollars a day for a booth at the market.
2) The local merchants (like Farmer Q’s) who do pay city taxes?
3) Or the customers, who reside mostly within the city?
The answer is probably all three but the emphasis should be on local merchants and customers. They’re paying the taxes.
We all love local farms and local produce, but something got out of whack here. We needlessly lost a taxpaying vendor that many of us loved.
And then there’s the case of Garden Bouquet, the downtown flower and art store that’s noticed a big decline in sales on Saturdays when the Farmers Market is up and running. The store hasn’t been able to get a booth yet so it finds itself paying taxes for a market (featuring out-of town-florists) that is actually hurting its business.
Ironic, frustrating, and yes, out of whack.
We’re barely halfway through winter, and already Marquette Area Public Schools have used up eight snow days. They’re allotted six for the year.
No reason to panic yet. Last year the district used ten snow days (Was the winter that bad?) and had to extend the school year by three days in June.
This year, the district might be able to squeeze in another school day or two during President’s Day weekend in February or on Good Friday. The administration will talk to the union about that.
But otherwise, the school year will just be extended beyond the official last day of June 10th. More snow days to come? If so, just tack them on to the end and hold off on the family vacation.
The recent days off, of course, have been for “cold,” not snow. If the National Weather Service predicts a wind chill of minus 25 degrees or colder at the bus stops, that’s enough to cancel school, per administration policy. Fifteen minutes outside in that kind of cold can give Junior frostbite.
Better safe than sorry even if it means delaying summer vacation.
Are you looking for a local business success?
Look no further than the Blackrocks Brewery. The brewery opened three years ago and quickly became a favorite among craft beer afficionados.
Then last September, it began mass producing its Coconut Brown, Grand Rabbits, 51K, and a specialty brew…and the beer was flying off the shelves.
Merchants couldn’t keep it in stock.
That early fever has abated somewhat but demand is still outstripping supply. Blackrocks is now distributing to stores from Munising to Bessemer with the expectation that it’ll be the entire U.P. within months, and then it’s across the bridge to the Lower Peninsula.
The brewery recently acquired some new fermenters so production, which is now at about 20,000 cans a week, will increase to 30,000. Eventually, it expects to reach 50,000.
By the way, Blackrocks will release a new beer, unidentified so far, this summer.
The lesson here: Brew a good beer, market it properly, and people will drink it. By the case.
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