Find a variety of plants and produce at Michigan farmers markets

May and June bring Michigan-grown early season items and plants to many farmers markets.

Many Michigan farmers markets are opening during May and early June and you’ll find the early season bringing different products to market. If you want to find out exactly what your market will have, try looking on their website, sign up for an email list or search social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. Many markets now communicate with their customers through these on-line sources and customers can often use phones or other mobile devices to find that information.

Every farmers market is different and the guidelines for vendors vary. Some markets may allow vendors to supplement their early season offerings with food that is purchased at produce terminals in Benton Harbor and Detroit’s Eastern Market and resold to customers. This means that exotic things from warmer climates may be available at your market including citrus fruits, tropical fruits and other fruits and vegetables grown in the southern or western United States. If you have questions about a product for sale at your market, ask the vendor about their product and where they are obtaining it.

If you’re looking for something local, you may be surprised to find things that are appearing earlier in the scene than usual. Typical May offerings include asparagus and rhubarb, both of which can be preserved by consumers. Michigan’s growing seasons are generally pretty predictable but this year, early warm temperatures followed by deep frosts may mean that some things won’t arrive at farmers markets when they are expected. Keeping up with your farmer/vendors will help you anticipate when you can expect your favorites to appear.

In some markets, you can take advantage of greenhouse-cultivated and early-start plants that are available now at Michigan’s markets. Whether you’re looking for ornamental perennials and annuals to give your garden a boost of color or garden transplants and herbs, you may be able to find those at your farmers markets, too. Growing nursery plants is another way that many vendors support their farms outside of the vegetable seasons. In addition to fact sheets about seasonal produce, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension provides information on how to choose healthy transplants when you’re purchasing them. And remember, if the plant is for food gardening, it is an eligible expense for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with the Michigan Bridge Card (formerly referred to as “food stamps”).

More information on how to use the Michigan Bridge Card to make food dollars bloom can be found on the MSU Extension news site.

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