Monday, September 13, 2010

Updated: Hancock's Tori offers fresh produce, baked goods, crafts, more ...

At Hancock's Tori Market, a large display of baked goods, jams and jellies can be seen each week at the table of Martha Sohlden of Chassell, Tori market master. In the background are Sandy Soring of Copper City, Tori co-manager, who makes baskets, and Gustavo Bourdieu of Hancock, who sells fresh vegetables and honey. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Dorn Dyttmer)

By Yunhua Li*

HANCOCK -- The Tori Market on Quincy Street in downtown Hancock sells locally grown vegetables, plants, and flowers; locally made jams, jellies, and baked goods; locally crafted jewelry, towels, and baskets. It is held every Wednesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. from June through October -- rain or shine.

Sandy Soring of Copper City, Tori co-manager, displays her hand-made baskets at the Tori. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Dorn Dyttmer)

"The weather does affect the market sometimes (heavy rain, etc.) but there is a tent up next to the Finnish Heritage Center and people are showing up even on the less sunny days," Tori Market Co-Manager Jeanne Medlyn said.

Tori means market in Finnish. The Finnish people in the local area want to maintain the culture of having a big outdoor market. The Tori market was formerly located at Montezuma Park, but now is on Quincy Street, in front of the old Hancock Middle School.

"Parking is more convenient," Carol Williams, one of the merchants, said. "It is better here than the park."

The Tori moved to a new place because Finlandia University has a Finnish background and wanted the market to move close to them. The City of Hancock wanted them there because the City is going to tear up the road near the Montezuma Park area.

"I get to know a lot of people in the community and it is fun," said Williams with a smile. "It doesn’t cost that much, and it is inexpensive to do."

Williams earns her living by making jewelry. She has been at the Tori Market for four years. She likes to make necklaces, earrings, and bracelets with beads. Their prices vary. The lowest-priced earrings are $10, and the necklaces are always $70 or more. She spends many hours making the more expensive pieces. Her works are also in the Copper Country Community Arts Center, located in Hancock on Quincy Street. Her husband creates baked goods for sale in the Tori.

"I love working here," 81-year-old Dan Kemppainen said. "All I like to do is gardening."

Dan Kemppainen displays his vegetables in the Tori. (Photo © 2010 Yunhua Li for Keweenaw Now)

Kemppainen noted he has a garden 200 by 200 feet, where he grows tomatoes, radishes, onions, lettuces, beets and other vegetables. Kemppainen lives in Altantic Mine in the house where he was born. Now he spends winters in Arizona, but returns home every summer to be with his son and plant his garden.

Kemppainen and his wife were founders of the market in 1982. It moved several times before coming to Hancock’s Montezuma Park five years ago.

Gardeners John Lennington and his mother, Dawn Tweedle, of Lake Linden, also grow fresh farm produce and sell several kinds of vegetables and plants, displayed in small baskets.

John Lennington (center, behind table) and his mother, Dawn Tweedle, sell several kinds of fresh vegetables and plants at the Tori Market. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Dorn Dyttmer)

The vegetables included broccoli, sweet onions, cabbage, zucchini and snap beans. Lennington gave me a snap bean and asked me to try it. It was sweet, crunchy and fresh. I bought two fresh zucchini and later cooked them with pork in a Chinese way, and the taste was wonderful.

Dorn Dyttmer of Hancock sells a variety of items in the Tori. There are CDs, frames, photos, instruments -- all kinds of things around him. He designed several convenient, practical items; for example, a paper cutting board which looks like paper but is stronger. A person can use it for three or four days. It is good for camping because it takes only a small space and is very easy to use and throw away.

From note cards to memory aids, Dorn Dyttmer's spot at the Tori offers a variety of items he has designed and crafted himself. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Dorn Dyttmer)

He designed a wooden box which he calls a d’light box. Dyttmer displayed two styles of these boxes. The one for Christmas has a Christmas tree carved on the top. When the box is plugged in, the lights come on and one can see a colorful Christmas tree shape on the box. The other d’light box is made for Halloween. On its top is a skeleton shape, which lights up when it is turned on. Another product that he designed is the "Adult Diet / Dinner Calculator" -- a memory aid. It is for the adult who has a memory problem.

"Always something different," Jeanne Medlyn said. "Early spring did not have many vegetables; June returned early vegetables; July and August have had many more; September and October will have pumpkins and cabbages."

Medlyn sells products from the fleece of sheep instead of vegetables. She sells white with blue, and pink with brown yarn. She also had a basket of black fleece at her feet.

Sheep are dirty, so to make yarn people have to wash the wool, dye it and then spin it into yarn, Medlyn explained. She gets fleece from her friend’s sheep. Medlyn likes to use a spinning wheel to demonstrate yarn making. She makes sweaters, scarves, mittens and other things. Medlyn invites people to come work with her if they are interested in making yarn.

The Tori Market offers artists and artisans as well as farmers and gardeners a place to sell their products. Here artist Vanessa Lipson chats with a customer about her crafts. (Photo © 2010 Yunhua Li for Keweenaw Now)

For those who want to sell their products, the market is set up between 8:15 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. and selling begins at 9 a.m. The cost is $5 for the day, and you have to bring your own table or chair.

"If you only have a small amount to sell -- three tomatoes and five onions, for example, you just pay 10 percent of your total sale up to $5," Medlyn noted.

The new State of Michigan cottage food law has really opened the market to more people who like to sell homemade food like jam, bread, cookies, honey, etc., Medlyn explained.

Customers interested in buying the really fresh organic vegetables should get to the Tori early. There is plenty of parking, and one can park in front of the Finlandia bookstore or on the street. One convenience of the market being near Finlandia is that you can use the bookstore restroom and take your time to enjoy this outdoor market.

Gustavo Bourdieu of Hancock sells his fresh vegetables and natural honey in the Tori. His onions have been especially popular this summer! (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Dorn Dyttmer)

One of Gustavo Bourdieu's favorite onions. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

I was there around 10:30 a.m., and the sellers had already sold half or more of their vegetables. The customers kept coming. Most of them were previous customers who prefer to have organic vegetables. The vegetables are fresh and the sellers pick them early in the morning. The prices are affordable, and the sellers are local people who are kind and cheerful. Even though some customers do not buy anything, the sellers still like to talk with them. In interviewing the gardeners, I found that they graciously talked about their experiences and shared their information. The Tori Market is a part of local culture.

For more information about the Tori, please call 482-1605 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Editor's Notes: Visit the Tori Market Web site for more photos. Visiting reporter Yunhua Li was a student in David Clanaugh's summer journalism class, for which she wrote this article. She interviewed the market sellers earlier this summer, and we apologize for the delay in posting this article. See also her July 23 article, "A Chinese look at July Fourth celebrations."

Update: Hancock's Finnish Theme Committee developed the concept of the Tori Market. According to City Manager Glenn Anderson, Hancock's Downtown Development Authority (DDA) provides funding and is planning to supply a new tent for the Tori next year. The City of Hancock provides insurance and some marketing for the Tori.

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