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 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. I am constructing an exhibit tracing the evolution of produce in Grand Rapids from the late 19th century to the 1930s. The working project can be found here

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