Farmers’ Markets and What They do for the Local Economy
As we are near the end of spring, many farmers markets are emerging to the city to share their bounty of hearty goods with the local community. Mid-Michigan is home to many farmers markets where locals can go to purchase fresh produce and delicious baked goods. “Farmers markets are a unique incubator of small local businesses that allow for shoppers to circulate dollars within their community,” said Executive Director Amanda Shreve on behalf of the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA). Many Lansing residents can be found filling up their shopping bags with a diverse selection of both fresh and local products.
There are more than 30 different farmers markets available in the mid-Michigan area. Residents of Lansing and surrounding areas have the Lansing City Market and the Allen Market Place that keep their doors open all year round to purchase seasonal produce and artisanal crafts. Farmers markets are a sure way for the local consumers to connect and engage with farmers and vendors about their products. Not only is this an excellent opportunity to meet up with friends, spend the day in the sun and share the diverse resources Michigan has to offer, but shopping is a sure way to help support the local economy. “If every Michigan family spent just $10 each week on local produce, more than $37 million would be invested in Michigan’s economy each week,” Shreve explained.
Many benefits come from shopping at the local farmers market like, fresher foods that are more affordable and nutritious. The foods sold at the local farmers market are more than likely freshly picked, rather than sent across the U.S. or from another country. This helps save on natural resources and keep costs down.
“Farmers markets are also important because they expand access to fresh, healthy and locally grown food which is especially important in communities where low-income residents have low access to healthy foods,” Shreve said. Since produce tends to lose nutrients right after harvest, farmers markets tend to have more nutritious foods available.
MIFMA has been working with the local community and farmers for almost 11 years. This organization is a member-based, statewide association with a mission to advance farmers markets to create a thriving marketplace for local products and foods. MIFMA manages one farmer’s market, the Farmers Market at the Capitol. According to Shreve, the events usually host 70-75 vendors and sets up in the outdoor space in front of the capitol building. This year’s markets will be on July 26, Aug. 23 and Sept. 20 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
“This is a special event market meant to demonstrate all of the impacts that community-based farmers markets can have across the state,” Shreve said. “MIFMA acts as a resource to all of the more than 300 farmers markets in the state. Information about these markets can be explored using MIFMA’s Find a Farmers Market feature available at mifma.org/findafarmersmarket.”
Some farmers can be found selling more than the average fruits and vegetables, and bakery goods that one would think of when thinking of a farmers market. Depending on what is in season at the time, the farmers market usually has a vast variety of different produce, artisanal products and homemade goodies. Some handmade items that one may see on vendor tables include cheeses, meats, soaps, preservatives, flower arrangements, bakery goods and many other crafts.
“One way that farmers markets expand healthy food access is by accepting food assistance benefits to ensure all Michigan residents can make purchases,” Shreve explained. Vendors are now accepting food assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) making it a bit easier for everyone to enjoy their local farmers market.
“In Michigan, over 190 farmers markets have the ability to accept between one and six different food assistance benefits including SNAP Bridge Cards, Double Up Food Bucks, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Project FRESH and Senior Market FRESH,” said Shreve.
According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation next to California. There are a wide variety of crops that come from Michigan. Some include tart cherries, cucumbers, apples, blueberries, squash, cranberries and dry beans. So, it’s not surprising that farmers want to share these delicious treats Michigan has to offer with their local community. Farmers rely on the support of their community just as much as the community relies on farming.
“Buying local enables customers to contribute to the local economy while supporting small farm businesses,” Shreve explained. Whether it’s your local farmers standing down the street or a large market at the capitol, take a few minutes out of your day to taste some of Michigan’s favorites from your area.
Farmers markets in the area:
South Lansing Farmers Market
Allen Farmers Market
East Lansing Farmers Market
Holt Farmers Market
Meridian Township Farmers Market
Dimondale Farmers Market
Mason Area Farmers Market
Michigan Farmers Market Association
Farmers Markets at the Capitol
Eaton Rapids Community Farmers Market
Eaton Rapids Medical Center Farmers Market
DeWitt Farmers Market
Westside Farmers Market c/o Initiative
Charlotte DDA Farmers Market
Old Red Mill Farmers Market
Bellevue Farmers Market
Charlotte Artisans and Farmers Market
Open Air Market of Stockbridge
Howell Farmers Market
Grand Ledge Farmers Market
Potterville Farmers Market and Craft Fair
Hartland Farmers Market
St. Johns Farmers Market
Westside Farmers Market
Williamston Farmers Market
Dansville Farmers Market
MSU- Student Organic Farm
Perry Dream Park Farmers Market
Bath Township Farmers Market
Horrocks Farm Market
For more information about local farmers markets, check out the Michigan Farmers Market Association at mifma.org.