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.


The Agri-Tourist’s Guide to Taking a Michigan Farm Tour

Spring is here, which means Michigan’s growing season is just around corner. Today, the Michigan Agritourism Association shares their insider tips for having some fun on a Michigan farm this summer. 


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.

Asparagus3Fresh, 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.

SB6_11_14Insider tip:  Wear a red shirt for when the strawberry juice drips down your chin!

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.

tomatoesThrough mid-July well into August, indulge in fabulous Michigan sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, sweet onions, peaches, plums, and almost any vegetable you desire.

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.

donutsInsider tip: Look for picnic areas, inviting benches and chairs to pull up and soak it all in. 

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.

Take a Bite Out of Michigan’s Produce Season

To celebrate Food and Agriculture Month in Michigan, we asked blogger Liz Della Croce of The Lemon Bowl to tell us how to take advantage of Michigan’s fresh produce season with fun family outings and a few delicious Michigan made recipes.

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Spring is right around the corner which means one thing here in Michigan: the growing season has finally arrived! As one of the nation’s largest exporters of produce, we do not take this time of year for granted. From ripe cherries to crisp apples to juicy blueberries and more, here are few fun ideas to make the most out of produce season and create long lasting memories with your family:

Visit a Farmers Market: Nothing gets kids excited about eating fresh fruits and vegetables quite like a visit to a farm stand.  Whether you visit the same farmers market regularly or only pass a farm stand a few times a month, let your kids pick out a new fruit or vegetable each visit. Getting little ones involved in the buying process is an ideal way to get even the pickiest of eaters excited about trying something new. Check out this Farmers Market locator to find one near you!

Head to a U-Pick Orchard: Take advantage of the warmer weather and head to a nearby orchard. Picking your own fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to get the freshest produce available while also sneaking in a little exercise.

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Be sure to bring the whole family and get the kids involved. Little hands are great for picking ripe blueberries or sitting on Daddy’s shoulders to reach that perfect peach. This Michigan U-Pick Guide will help you find a nearby orchard and also guide you through what is in season and when.

Eat Seasonally: From the first asparagus spears in early spring to late-fall apples, eating with the season is one of the best ways to ensure that your family gets a full range of nutrients throughout the year. Additionally, when you eat fruit that was picked just a few miles down the road, you will get maximum flavor and peak freshness.

Create Something Delicious: As you eat your way through the season, here are a few tasty ideas for Michigan’s most popular fruits and vegetables:

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Apple Recipes:

Asparagus Recipes :

Peach Recipes:

Cherry Recipes:

Blueberry Recipes

What are your favorite ways to take advantage of Michigan’s world-class produce and agriculture? Do you have a favorite farm stand or u-pick orchard? 

Learn more about Michigan Agriculture in the video below.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 3.15.39 PMLiz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been creating delicious recipes using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality. Liz has appeared live on the TODAY Show and tapes regular cooking segments for her local NBC affiliate station.  She is a contributor for The Huffington Post and Cooking Light. Liz’s recipes and food photography have been featured on several websites including Shape Magazine, Food Network blog, The Cooking Channel, TODAY Food and more.