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The Great Market

Grow Eastern Market

Eastern Market is a well-recognized landmark for most metro Detroiters. In the past few years, under the direction of Christine Quane, Food Hub and Innovation Director, it has evolved to include many new benefits to its customers, suppliers, and food entrepreneurs. In 2016, Eastern Market started responding to calls from farmers with more produce than they could sell. Simultaneously, some schools and restaurants were searching for ways to incorporate the new direction of fresh farm-to-table foods onto their menus. It sounded like the perfect pairing of supply and demand, but it took many steps to make the process operate smoothly.

Grow Eastern Market (GEM), a small farm wholesale development program, began by focusing on a contingency of small, local farmers to help them meet their distribution challenges.  They coordinated produce and product timing to simplify and strengthen the supply chain. In essence, Eastern Market became Detroit’s local wholesaler.

Dirt. Dock. Door

Fast forward to the Pandemic. The buying communities evaporated as restaurants closed, children didn’t go to school, and people were afraid to leave the safety of their cars to enter grocery stores. To alleviate the problem, Eastern Market pivoted to provide an online market in a box for a typical family of four. They created a box filled with farm-fresh produce that could be picked up by car, contact-free, on Saturdays in the parking lot north of Shed 5. The program for the food boxes sold out the first week and expanded from 50 to 100 online orders the following week. The 100 boxes, however, were gone in the first hour, and soon, 350 online market orders became the norm during the Covid-19 quarantine.

Since that successful experience, Eastern Market realized the benefits of expanding products and simplifying the process for Saturday pick-up.

Significant Partnerships have emerged under Reid Walborn, Food Hub Manager, Eastern Market Partnership. In partnership with the Michigan Fitness Foundation, those using SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs) benefits can receive a $20 produce box for only $5 using their EBT/bridge cards. More information at

Another partnership with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation enables participants to order a produce box plus $10 worth of products every week Gluten-free products and inspiring recipes are available on the website. More information at -chapter/.

In 2015, another innovation involved food entrepreneurs directly into Eastern Market kitchens to create their own products. Currently, more than a dozen fully licensed and certified entrepreneurs share space that enables them to produce items such as salsa, pickles, donuts, roasted coffee, popsicles, jam, and more. They sell the products into marketing channels and wholesale outlets, as well as to direct and online customers of the Eastern market. More information at

In a short time, Eastern Market has stepped up to address food access demands by distributing to larger audiences and creating unique supply chains to meet the needs of a diverse community of eaters.