Celebrate National Farmers Market Week during Aug. 7-13, 2016

Michigan farmer’s markets have great produce, flowers, maple syrup, hand crafted soaps, baked good and more. Support your local farmer’s market during National Farmers Market Week, Aug. 7-13, 2016.

The 17th annual National Farmers Market Week is Aug. 7-13, 2016. Join in by celebrating the important role farmer’s markets play in local economies.

According to a USDA News Release on July 11, 2016, “Farmers markets are an important part of strong local and regional food systems that connect farmers with new customers and grow rural economies. In many areas, they are also expanding access to fresh, healthy food for people of all income levels," said United States Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. "National Farmers Market Week recognizes the growth of these markets and their role in supporting both urban and rural communities.”

Elanor Starmer, the Administrator of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, who does research and provides support for local and regional food systems, stated in the USDA News Release on July 11, 2016, "Farmers markets are a gathering place where you can buy locally produced food, and at the same time, get to know the farmer and story behind the food you purchase. These types of markets improve earning potential for farmers and ranchers, building stronger community ties and access to local foods."

Michigan has many great farmer’s markets across the state. From apples to zinnias, Michigan ranks second only to California for the variety of crops grown. You can follow any of these links to find a farmer’s market near you.

The farmer’s markets in Michigan have great produce, flowers, maple syrup, hand crafted soaps, baked good and more. Some markets feature music, kids’ crafts and activities, special events, cooking demonstrations and more.

I recently visited my local farmer’s market, and that evening I went home to enjoy some roasted beets and a fantastic strawberry vinaigrette dressing. Tasty! I connected with friends I had not seen in a while, got some fresh air and exercise all while supporting local agriculture. I talked to one local grower who started selling vegetables and vinaigrettes at the farmer’s market as an activity to do with her grandkids.

4-H farmer's market standThere are also many youth farm stands throughout Michigan. These farm stands and booths at local farmers markets teach kids many skills from gardening, marketing, business skills and customer service, just to name a few. Many of these are supported by local Michigan State University Extension and 4-H volunteers who teach kids invaluable skills. You can learn more about local MSU Extension and 4-H programs at the Michigan 4-H Youth Development website.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has also partnered with local 4-H clubs to bring fresh produce to campers in two state parks. Interlochen and Traverse City have both hosted 4-H youth farm stands. This has proven to be a great learning experience for the 4-Hers and provides campers with fresh produce, pumpkins and more.

According to the USDA News Release on July 11, 2016, during the Obama Administration the USDA has invested close to $1 billion in 40,000 local food businesses and infrastructure projects. Farmer’s markets provide consumers with fresh, affordable, convenient and healthy products from local producers. With support from USDA, more farmer’s markets offer customers the opportunity to make purchases with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC) and the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Programs. Supporting farmer’s markets is a part of the USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) Initiative, which coordinates the Department's work to develop strong local and regional food systems.

Get out and support your local farmers and pick up some fresh produce at your local farmer’s market!

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