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Ypsilanti Farmers Marketplace Tour

Cynthia continues to explain how Growing Hope helps the Ypsilanti community.
<v ->So Cynthia, we were just in your hoop house space,</v> and that was about a mile away here in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and now we’ve moved over to the Ypsilanti farmers marketplace. Can you tell us a little bit more about this space and how you use it? <v ->Sure, so something that growing hope</v> is really important to us as place-making. And so this is our second location, as you said, in downtown Ypsilanti. It’s our Ypsilanti farmer’s marketplace, a multi-purpose space that we really repurpose from… You can look a little bit, you can tell that this part of it, which is our welcome center holds some of our staff was a bank building at one point.
Drive through bank building, but we have plants growing in it. We have staff in it and actually in the basement, we have a cooler for aggregation of produce. And on Tuesday afternoons, year round we have our farmer’s market here from three to seven, either outside if the weather’s nice in the parking lot behind us or inside the marketplace hall, which we’ll see soon. <v ->Wonderful - Yeah.</v> <v ->Well thank you for that - You are welcome.</v> <v ->And we’ll look forward to kind of jumping</v> into the rest of the space. Okay, so I just love you to meet Toy. She is gonna be one of our new makers soon. She makes vegan donuts, and this is her portable fryer.
And we actually… we’ve rejiggered some of our equipment so she can fry in the kitchen. And we had electrician in there today helping to put in two-20 voltage. So we’re, step-by-step getting there and I can’t wait to taste them. <v ->Oh, they are delicious, they are vegan too.</v> I know. (laughing) That's amazing I can imagine 10 years ago in a space like this, we probably wouldn’t have seen vegan donuts donuts available, right. <v ->They’re here to stay.</v> That's right. Well, awesome. I’m glad we made this step. <v ->Oh. Okay thanks</v> <v ->Wonderful.</v> <v ->All right.
So we’re here inside the marketplace hall.</v> Can you tell us a little bit about how this space is used and kind of how this space has evolved? <v ->Yes. So we renovated,</v> this was an old warehouse from the 1930s and has been abandoned for many, many years. We’re right in the center of downtown Ypsilanti and through some help with donors and a capital campaign, we were able to purchase the building and do about a three year renovation to bring it up to code and make it the building it is today. So it houses our indoor farmer’s market, which happens every Tuesday from three to seven year round. Now having this building makes it year round, which is wonderful.
We also host a lot of other community groups here, our building blast classes, actually, that’s where the tables are set up from. We had a free class on the cottage food law. I had about 40 people here on Monday night and we also, then when we’re not using it, we rented as an event rental space for some of or non-mission revenue, which support our programs. And it also houses right through these red doors, our incubator kitchen, the growing hope incubator kitchen. <v ->which I mentioned a little bit before.</v> <v ->Let’s go check it out</v> <v ->Okay, great.
So we have some work going on in here today,</v> not any makers, but we’re actually working on a, some electrical to help Toy with her vegan donuts. So an incubator kitchen is basically a means to help food entrepreneurs really launch their business. A typical barrier to entry is the need to work in a licensed kitchen and it’s very costly and there really aren’t a lot available. And the thing is, you need to have not just the kitchen, but you need to be able to have dry storage and cold storage because once you bring your ingredients in you, can’t take them back and tell they’re in the product and headed to the end-user.
So our makers can rent it 24/7, on the earn hourly rate, very reasonable, hourly rate. And they can do as many as little as four hours a month to you know, we have people who are now like 10 hours a week. And we also, I mentioned help with the whole process to be able to get licensed in this kitchen. They have to be inspected by the county or by the department of what’s that, you know, the Michigan state agriculture. And so we have full commercial equipment in here. We also have actually, we have three coolers now, two of them were recently donated from Zinger man’s, which is wonderful. And then we have full convection ovens, a gas stove.
This is a large mixer, the three whole sink for cleaning. And this actually back here used to be many years ago, a dental clinic. It’s where we have storage and more coolers. But we actually hope in our next phase to blow this open and have a full open space. So a much larger prep. Cause there’s actually a lot of makers that, that really what they need is a lot. If you think about bakers and they need tables and ways to spread out and really need a lot of storage, so then they can buy in bulk and leave it here in bulk. So that’s the next phase.
But at this point we’re still just getting up and running, but we have seven, I think now makers that have been inspected and are now qualified to use the kitchen and just a wide variety of diversity of product and people and it’s really fun, really fun to see. <v ->That’s amazing.</v> <v ->Yeah.</v> <v ->So it sounds like between the hoop house</v> and kind of the farm, you’re kind of removing barriers. And then here we come into this space and we can see a spot for buyers and sellers to come together. We can see a spot for entrepreneurs to kind of think through how they would start a business in sustainable food production. <v ->Yeah.
I always say it’s kind of</v> the other end of the food spectrum, of the local food system. The story I told you before, so two of our makers who are working to get up and running, they’re garlic farmers, local garlic farmers, and they want to process their garlic down into small bulbs that’s easier for restaurants to use and sell it locally. And so they’ll process and package here. And in a separate conversation, somebody said to me. ‘oh, restaurants have difficulty buying local garlic because it comes in in big bulbs and it’s too much time to break it down.’ And I said, well, we’re bringing those two together. And we didn’t even know that that was a need.
So yeah but there are very practical needs in terms of the garlic farmers need to get the equipment, need to understand their labels, the packaging. So it’s a process and we’re, we’re helping them with. <v ->Sure. Well, it sounds like growing hope</v> is doing some amazing work across kind of local food systems and congratulations on your success so far. And we hope you all the best in the future. <v ->Great.</v> <v ->Thanks for joining us here.</v> And we look forward to continuing the conversation with all of you about local food and the discussion forums.

Cynthia gives a tour of the Ypsilanti Farmers Marketplace and shows how the Marketplace helps the local community by providing access to resources such as commercial kitchens and storage spaces. She also shows how the marketplace can be used by community members so they can learn to grow and produce food.

Discussion: Are there farms or organizations in your community you can source local food from? What about community supported agriculture (CSA) options?

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