A new public market and gathering space promoting local food, education, and entrepreneurship

Michigan’s Grand Rapids Downtown Market is a year-round farmers market that brings local food production, distribution, marketing, and education to the community. The first LEED Gold certified public market in the country, the market features 24 indoor vendors and a seasonal 52-stall outdoor shed featuring locally grown, produced, and prepared foods. Upper floors house educational classrooms, a commercial kitchen incubator, a rooftop greenhouse, offices and meeting rooms, and event spaces. The ground floor also includes two full-service restaurants.

The Grand Rapids Downtown Market leverages the farm-to-table movement to create a ‘food hub’ that addresses significant social impact goals.

2015 Selection Committee

The market is located just south of the downtown business district in Heartside, one of the area’s most economically challenged neighborhoods. Vendors accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food stamps, and the market partners with local nonprofits to provide educational scholarships to low-income residents along with complimentary transit passes and “Produce Bucks” that can be used at the market’s grocery store. The Heartside Gleaning Initiative collects excess fresh produce from market vendors for distribution to local food pantries.

The Downtown Market celebrates the local food system by linking the Grand Rapids community with many of the 12,220 farms in 11 surrounding counties and attracts a diversity of customers and additional investment to the southern edge of downtown. Educational programming is at the core of the market’s mission, and classes on cooking and nutrition are offered in the teaching kitchen, which features adjustable-height countertops that can be lowered for children. An incubator kitchen program assists start-up entrepreneurs with the development, production, and marketing of food products using a shared commercial kitchen.