Discover Michigan Fresh and Prescription for Health

A pilot program in Midland to tie healthy eating with the local farmers market.

In Midland County, Michigan State University Extension, Community Nutrition Director Tara Roberson has been working with the Midland Area Farmers Market and Mid-Michigan Health to initiate a new pilot program for Prescription for Health. The objective is to help people with chronic diseases better understand what's fresh at their local farmers market and connect it with nutrition education that emphasizes how they can take action to improve their health with a focus on a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables. Roberson has been getting help from Julie Darnton, Community Food Systems Educator, who also works with farmers markets in the area and across the state. 

The program is offering the participants a $5 incentive for each nutrition education session they attend with a curriculum called Discover Michigan Fresh. Discover Michigan Fresh Farmer's market tours help SNAP-Ed eligible residents get to know their local farmer's markets and explore Michigan-grown produce. The tours encourage participants to shop at their farmer's market for nutritious and affordable food that keep their dollars local. 

In this program, Michigan State University Extension's nutrition education staff members join tour participants at the farmer's market where they're taken on a guided tour through the market. Participants meet farmers and talk about ideas for making new farm fresh products. Often, MSU Extension's Michigan Fresh fact sheets are also used and shared. 

MSU Extension staff members explain to participants how they might use items from the market and MyPlate to create nutritious meals. MSU Extension staff can also aid participants in understanding how food assistance benefits are used at their farmers market. 

Tour participants are given a take-home Discover Michigan Fresh booklet which is full of useful information such as farmer's market shopping tips, food preservation guidelines and recipes. In some markets, extra farmer's market activities are offered where participants are given the change to come back to the market to find out how much they learned during their first visit and from their booklet. 

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