20 Things to Look for at Michigan Farmers Markets this Summer

Exploring farmers markets around the state is a wonderful summer activity. Guest blogger Samantha Collins, Communications and Events Manager for the Michigan Farmers Market Association, shares what you don’t want to miss.

Farmer’s Stand, Onsted, MI

With over 300 farmers markets in the state, Michigan boasts a vibrant summer market season from May through October with a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and artisan goods. Each community that hosts a farmers market is unique and offers a different yet memorable experience for shoppers.

1. Fresh Seasonal Fruits: Summer months bring a large variety of fresh fruits to the market including strawberries, sweet cherries, blueberries, peaches, raspberries and melons.

Photo Courtesy of Lindsey J. Scalera, Michigan Voices for Good Food Policy.

Strawberries at the Holland Farmers Market. Photo Courtesy of Lindsey J. Scalera, Michigan Voices for Good Food Policy.

2. Fresh Seasonal Veggies: Vegetables are a wonderful addition to daily meals. Farmers market staples include a wide variety of leafy greens, tomatoes and peppers. You may even find more exotic varieties such as Bok Choy, Japanese Eggplant and heirloom varieties.  

Photo Courtesy of Lindsey J. Scalera, Michigan Voices for Good Food Policy.

Ann Arbor Farmers Market. Photo Courtesy of Lindsey J. Scalera, Michigan Voices for Good Food Policy.

3. Wine Sampling and Sales: Shoppers age 21 and over can now sample and purchase wine at farmers markets.

Photo Courtesy of Michigan Farmers Market Association.

Wine Samples & Sales, Dearborn Farmers and Artist Market. Photo Courtesy of Michigan Farmers Market Association.

4. Farmers Markets at the Capitol: Each year 60 farmers and artisans from across Michigan travel to the States’ Capitol Building in Lansing to participate in three farmers markets held throughout the summer on Thursday July 30, August 27 and September 24. These unique events bring more than 22,000 people to the Capitol lawn! 

Photo Courtesy of Michigan Farmers Market Association.

Farmers Market at the Capitol. Photo Courtesy of Michigan Farmers Market Association.

5. Fresh Meat & Fish

6. Cooking Demonstrations: Whether you are an experienced cook or not yet able to boil water, you can pick up a few quick tips and ideas on how to incorporate fresh seasonal produce from the farmers market into your diet through a cooking demonstration.

7. Food Sampling: Samples are plentiful at Michigan farmers markets and can be a great way to try a new product or a new flavor of one of your favorite treats.

8. Wild Foraged Mushrooms: Enjoy an assortment of wild mushrooms picked by certified foragers.

9. Food Trucks: Food trucks have become a hot commodity at farmers markets, known for sourcing their food locally and offering many great options.  

Photo Courtesy of Michigan Farmers Market Association.

The Purple Carrot Food Truck. Photo Courtesy of Michigan Farmers Market Association.

10. Accessibility: Over 150 farmers markets in Michigan accept SNAP Bridge Cards, making Michigan a national leader in accepting food assistance at farmers markets.

11. Live Music

12.  Cheese & Eggs

13.  Artisan & Handmade Goods: Many farmers markets host a wide variety of vendors who make their items by hand using ingredients grown and produced in Michigan.

14. Kid Events & Games: Kids and families can enjoy festivals and events at farmers markets all summer long! From exploring the market through a scavenger hunt to crafts and nutrition education activities.

15.  Baked Goods

16. Fresh Cut Flowers

Photo Courtesy of Michigan Farmers Market Association.

Cut Flowers at the Kalamazoo Farmers Market. Photo Courtesy of Michigan Farmers Market Association.

17. Potted Plants

Photo Courtesy of Michigan Farmers Market Association.

Boyne City Farmers Market Potted Plants. Photo Courtesy of Michigan Farmers Market Association.

18. Physical Fitness Activities: Physical activity goes hand-in-hand with healthy eating, and that’s why the farmers market is a great place to attend a pop up yoga class, walking group and other physical fitness activities.

19. Entrepreneurs & Start Up Businesses: Farmers markets are places for start up businesses and entrepreneurs to test new products and business ideas – a great place to try something new!

20. Pet Treats: More and more vendors are popping up with homemade treats for pets!

Be sure to let us know about your farmers market shopping experience this summer by using the hashtag #farmersmarketsmi along with #puremichigan. What is your favorite Pure Michigan find at farmer markets?

Samantha Collins headshotSamantha Collins is the Communications and Events Manager for the Michigan Farmer’s Market Association. She specializes in social media management, content curating, and creative communication strategy. Samantha is from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and is a 2010 graduate of Northern Michigan University. In her spare time she enjoys being on Lake Medora which is located in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan, fishing, photography, reading, writing and gardening.


Treasure Hunting for Michigan-themed Antiques

Summer is the perfect time of year to find hidden gems at Michigan’s many antique shops and markets. Today, Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan fills us in on the treasures she’s found at the Allegan Antiques Market.

Do you have a favorite flea market or antique shop in Michigan? Share with us in the comments section below!

For many, summer in Michigan is meant for beachcombing, boating, biking, golfing and enjoying the great outdoors of Pure Michigan. It’s also a prime season for exploring the area’s flea markets, antique shops and yard sales.

One of my favorite places for treasure hunting is the Allegan Antiques Market, held the last Sunday of each month (April through September) at the Allegan County Fairgrounds. Touted as one of the largest markets in the Midwest, more than 400 vendors (both inside and out) spread around the fairgrounds selling everything from large scale furniture to glassware to postcards.

Over the years, I’ve established quite a routine when it comes to this event. Sometimes my visits are short and sweet, but often I find myself getting lost in the variety of booths for three or four hours. Despite repeated requests from family and friends to join in the adventure, it’s something I (selfishly) prefer to do solo. I like going at my own pace, without worrying about a guest who is bored 10 minutes into the day, and getting lost in the nostalgia of it all.

While I rarely have something specific I’m looking for, I always seem to find “just the right thing” to add to my collection. Items featuring Michigan receive top attention of course – especially travel brochures and magazines, food and agriculture focused pieces, unique license plates and slightly-rusted signs. I’m also drawn to cottage- and beach-themed décor, garden art and things that are red (the primary accent color in my home).

This past April, a couple treasures found their way into my heart (and ultimately into my bag). A wooden dachshund with “Frankenmuth Beer” in faded paint was a steal at just $5 (even with its chipped tail – which to me, adds to its character). I also scored 5 juice-size glasses adorned with red roosters – perfect for sampling my favorite made-in-Michigan spirits – for $7.

Over the years, my visits to Allegan have yielded some of my most treasured finds. A 5-foot red bench now serves as a coffee table in my living room; a red and black hinged checkerboard hangs on the diagonal on the dining room wall (next to my family’s original Michigan-made Carrom board); an eight-sided jar holds a collection of marbles purchased at my grandmother’s estate auction; a red wooden stool stands proudly in my kitchen.

I’ve also amassed a large number of postcards – highlighting travel destinations around the state of Michigan, from the early 1900s. Despite their small size, these can be quite expensive. Typically, I limit myself to $5 per card, but I’ve been known to drop $25 for a rare find. 

Another highlight of the market is the opportunity to indulge on fair fare – and even here, habits are hard to break. Midway through my shopping, I stop for a steak sandwich with onions (and A1 sauce), fries and a Dr. Pepper. Then, before heading back to my car – it’s a stop at the elephant ear booth for dessert to go.

The Allegan Antiques Market runs on the last Sunday of each month (April through September) from 8am to 4pm at the Allegan County Fairgrounds. Admission is $4 per person; parking is free.

Tips for shopping at the Allegan Antiques Market

  • Wear comfortable shoes, there is lot of walking both on paved pathways and grass (where roots, acorns and other items gather).
  • Bring a tote or wheeled-bag to carry your treasures.
  • Bring cash. There is no ATM and most vendors are not able to process credit cards.
  • Don’t be afraid to barter on price – many vendors are willing to negotiate (especially later in the season).
  • Make sure you have room in your car – in case you find something “big” to haul home.

Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan inherited her love of history, collecting and antiques from her father (a local historian and genealogist) and grandparents. She lives in Plainwell, just blocks from the family home where she was raised.