ELFCO May Reopen as Year-Round Farmers' Market

Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 7:55 am
Jessy Gregg

According to a letter mailed out to members, East Lansing Food Co-op is in the exploratory phase of opening a year round farmers’ market.

East Lansing Food Co-op, known by the abbreviation ELFCO, closed their location on Northwind Drive last January after plans to move the co-op to a location on the east side of Lansing failed. The farewell message posted on their website stated that they were financially unable to open a location similar to the one that had been in operation but that there was a possibility “of creating an entirely new model for making great food available to our community.”

Although ELFCO has not been in operation as a retail location since 2017, they have maintained an active board of directors and have invited member-owners to participate in planning meetings and to submit ideas for future projects. According to the recently mailed letter, a vote on December 2nd supported the idea of opening a year-round farmers’ market and that plan is moving forward.

“Our idea is to create a vibrant welcoming space where local farmers can sell their amazing produce and value-added items like jams, salsas, breads, and baked goods,” the letter continued “ELFCO’s staff will do the actual selling so farmers and producers can get back to what they do best: growing and producing!”

The letter, which was signed by the six members of the ELFCO Board of Directors indicated that a bulk section and special order process could be part of the plan, as well as a coffee shop. No location has been selected yet, but the board has indicated that they are concentrating their search in the East Lansing area with the goal of being accessible to MSU students and neighborhood residents. ELFCO has partnered with a team of graduate students from MSU’s Weekend MBA program for help in launching this new venture.

Stephen Gasteyer, Vice President of the Board of Directors responded to ELi’s inquiries via email. “We haven’t yet settled on a location, but…we have a number of prospects we are investigating. Ideally, we would like a place that is convenient and accessible to foot traffic and has parking. We don’t need a huge amount of space, but enough to facilitate moving local produce and products. We are very open to partnerships to make this initiative happen. We believe strongly that there is still a need and a niche for a local food co-op in East Lansing that can serve as a venue for local food.”

The Argus Farm Stop markets in Ann Arbor were listed as the model for this method of selling. The first Argus Market opened in an old gas station on Liberty Street in Ann Arbor in 2014, with a second location opening last year. According to their website they sell only local products, prices are set by producers, and producers receive 80% of the selling price for their goods.


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