As warmth fills the air and the sun stays up longer each day, spring is a welcome relief from a winter of bone-chilling temperatures. Michigan farms are waking up. Greenhouses are planted, seedlings are sprouting, newly born baby animals cry out, and orchards will soon be blooming. Farm crews are opening up the barns, dusting “winter” off the play areas, and preparing to open the wonder of a farm to visitors.
Fresh, delicious, local produce will soon be available at road-side stands and farm markets, along with an opportunity to interact with those who grow your food. Asparagus is the first harbinger of spring that normally pops out of the ground in early May. It can be prepared in so many different ways and is a treat to the taste buds after a long winter.
Insider tip: Since it is only available fresh for about 6 weeks, try to get it as frequently as you can before it is gone for the season!
This year’s Asparagus festival is May 15-17 and includes a Kick Ass-paragus 5K Fun Run/Walk, the infamous asparagus poem contest, a parade full of homemade asparagus hats and more.
In June, strawberries make their debut! Many Michigan farms offer picked or u-pick strawberries, which is a fun experience for families. Ask the farm folks to show you the different growth stages of a strawberry: from their start as small white blossoms to plump red ones which quickly fill up a quart box.
In late June and into July, the growing season kicks into high gear with cherries, raspberries and blueberries. If you loved picking strawberries, look for farms that offer U-Pick on these fruits, too.
Insider tip: If you’re not already a jammer, try hand-making jams and jellies and freeze them to savor the flavors year round!
The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City is one of the oldest and largest festivals in the country. The eight-day celebration, held July 4-11th this year, is jam-packed with activities for all ages. Though not as large, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries take main stage at various festivals around the state.
Insider tip: Visit the farm market first to get what is locally fresh in season, then plan the rest of your meal planning and shopping from there. Grilled vegetables? Absolutely delicious!
For longer outings, look for farms which offer farm-style play areas, animal petting, and educational sessions and tours. Enjoy the onsite bakeries and food venues for fruit slushies, ice cream, fruit pies and of course – donuts! We have no scientific proof, but farm bakery donuts just taste better when eaten while enjoying fresh air and the views of a farm! A down-to-earth farm outing will simulate all five senses, teach you how food is grown, and most importantly, it’s just plain fun.
Plan your next experience by searching for local farms at www.michiganfarmfun.com or with a printed directory available at Michigan Agritourism Member locations, Michigan Farm Bureau offices, Michigan Welcome Centers or by calling the Michigan Agritourism Association office at (866) 964-3628.
Have you been to a Michigan farm? Tell us about your visit!
Allissa McManus and Beth Hubbard are passionate Board members of the Michigan Agritourism Association, which is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote agritourism by supporting our membership of farmers, farm marketers, and agritourism operators, who work tirelessly to provide fresh, delicious produce, education and farm fun to residents and visitors of our great State of Michigan. For more information about us and our members, please visit www.michiganfarmfun.com.