By Nicole Geller
The Allen St. Farmer's Market is a year-round, weekly market held in Lansing's Eastside neighborhood. Vendors at the market provide seasonal fruits and vegetables, a variety of meats, eggs, cheese, breads, baked goods, coffee, honey and beeswax candles, tea, and prepared foods that range from gluten-free crackers to Ethiopian lentils. And of course --- ice pops.
The market is an enterprise of the Allen Neighborhood Center, a non-profit organization which works to strengthen mid-Michigan's local food system. While the Allen Neighborhood Center has been a fixture since 1999, the Allen St. Farmer's Market had its first season in 2004. With only a 10 week long market season and four female farmers, the market has greatly expanded to what it is today. Allen St. made history in 2005 when it became the first market in Michigan to accept SNAP/EBT food assistance.
True to Allen Neighborhood Center's vision, the Allen St. Farmer's Market aims to strengthen not only local food accessibility, but the entire local food system. The market's participation in the Hoophouses for Health program financially assists farmers in building new hoophouses in exchange for providing produce to local schools and families. The market also supports farmers and food processors with technical assistance, marketing, and business development.
The Allen Neighborhood Center building itself houses a licensed incubator kitchen where many of the market's prepared foods vendors get their start. The space is also available to rent for community events and meetings.
Kids, pets, and bikes are all welcome at the outdoor Allen St. Farmer's Market. Dogs are not allowed during the indoor market from November to May but are (kinda) allowed during the summer season. :)
Vendors at the Allen St. Farmer's Market accept cash, SNAP/EBT Bridge Cards, Double Up Food Bucks, WIC, Market FRESH (formerly Senior Project Fresh), and Hoophouses for Health. Many vendors also accept credit cards.