Leonard Street Market in 1927. Grand Rapids City Archives.

In 1917, Grand Rapids opened its first city-run retail farmers market. The Leonard Street Market was the result of work by women’s clubs who were concerned with the rising costs of food caused by massive inflation exasperated by the war in Europe. Having a retail market where farmers could sell directly to the public was not a given. In fact, it was actively discouraged by local politicians and business owners since at least the 1890s. Much of my earlier research looks at why and how these markets were started, who was involved, and what their work can tell us about the society and culture of mid-sized cities in the Progressive Era. Here is a chapter written on the markets in GR and the school gardens during the so-called “progressive” era.

Jayson Otto, “Municipal Housekeepers: The Establishment of Gardening Programs and Farmers Markets by Grand Rapids Women’s Clubs in the Early Twentieth Century.” In Cities of Farmers: Problems, Possibilities and Processes of Producing Food in Cities. edited by Alfonso Morales and Julie Dawson, 21-38. 2017 Iowa City, IA, University of Iowa Press.

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