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12 in Your Town: Flint Farmers Market brings the community together over food

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Flint Farmers Market

The Flint Farmers Market is a staple of the downtown area.

The Flint Farmers Market offers a wide variety of vendors selling locally produced food and brings the community together.

FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - It's a building visitors can't miss in downtown Flint with the big red letters across the top: "Flint Farmers' Market."

The Flint Farmer's Market first opened back in 1905 off Kearsley Street, moved for a time to a site on Robert T. Longway Boulevard starting in 1940 and landed at its current building in 2014.

"I think it's wonderful," said Kerianne Martus, who has been with the market for 15 years. "As we all know and see, Flint is in the middle of a huge growth and we're just so excited to be a part of it. And it's just so exciting every day. There's new things happening down here and we're just so happy to be right in the middle of it all."

She said shoppers can expect a little bit of everything at the Flint Farmers Market.

"We've got poultry. We've got meat. I'm looking around, we've got caramel apples, we've got doughnuts, we've got plants, we've got baked goods, we've got jewelry," Martus said. "We've got, of course, produce."

It's the people behind those products that make the market so special like entrepreneur Sam Jawhari, who owns Beruit Restaurant and Grocery.

"We love being part of the community man, and where else are you going to go to get this great food?" he said.

Jawhari has been a vendor at the market since 2005.

"When you tell a customer, thank you and they say, 'No no no, thank you for being here!' that just makes your day," he said.

Tammie Mathis from Flint has been coming to the market her whole life.

"Hill's Cheese. My grandmother used to come to Hill's Cheese and we used to come and taste all the cheese," she said. "It's the only place you can find sharp cheddar."

Mathis is a customer turned business owner. Three and half years ago, she approached the market with an idea and she now runs TEES' Plentiful Salads.

"I literally started delivering salads because I couldn't find a salad anywhere. Nowhere," Mathis said.

She couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

"It's my heart. I call it my baby, you know what I mean," Mathis said. "Because it's something that grew inside of me in my heart. It's what I wanted to do. It wasn't just that I wanted a salad. I wanted everybody to enjoy it and I wanted everybody to have an option to eat healthy or to start to eat healthy, because we'll put anything on a bed of lettuce."

Beyond her own business, Mathis said the Flint Farmers' Market represents the best of the city.

"It's just like the center of Flint. So it's like, people that don't know anything about Flint and they're trying to meet someone, 'Just meet me at the farmers' market,'" she said. "I mean, they know where it's at."

But as Martus often says, it's more than just business.

"It's kind of a really great coming together of humanity," she said. "If you sit in that atrium on any given day, you see all kinds of interesting things happening and people making connections that they never would have made if they had not been here. So that, to me, is one of the greatest things that we've been able to accomplish."