Twenty-five years later, markets are not only surviving, but thriving. The "locavore" movement has restaurants and home cooks celebrating and reestablishing local and traditional foodways--and a new generation of markets have sprung up to feed their hunger. Chelsea's farmers market is twenty years old this year. Saline's market is thirteen, and Dexter's is entering its eighth season. Even Pittsfield Township is launching its own market this summer (see list below).
Nothing seems to spell "local institution" like the people flocking to the city parking lot next to Chelsea's old stone First United Methodist Church, laughing with vendors and filling up their shopping baskets. The Chelsea Farmers Market moved repeatedly before landing here four years ago.
Farmer Bill Stech says it started out down by the railroad tracks, but nearby merchants objected. "Then we moved up to the bowling alley--we roasted up there" in the large, unshaded asphalt lot in front of Chelsea Lanes. Next, the city put the market in the parking lot behind the Purple Rose theater--down in a valley and invisible from Main Street. "Then we were up on the sidewalk"--the stretch of Park Street between Main and the Purple Rose--"but we got a new police chief, and he freaked. Thought some car would jump the curb and take out a stall and maybe a kid or two." (It happened in Santa Monica in 2003.)