PROOS: Enjoy your local farmers market

Michigan’s food and agriculture industry contributes over $100 billion annually to the state’s economy and employs more than 900,000 workers — about 22 percent of the state’s entire workforce.

Our connection to agriculture is clearest at the local farmers market, where consumers can directly interact with area growers and producers.

I am proud that we’ve made reforms to allow venders at roadside stands and farmers markets to sell goods made in their own homes and for startup winemakers to also have this unique connection with consumers at the farmers market.

As farmers continue to offer great summer produce and begin to harvest autumn fruits and vegetables, our farmers markets are going strong — enabling easy access to fresh, Michigan-grown products for area families.

In today’s modern society, with grocery and convenience stores on virtually every corner, farmers markets are enjoying a bit of a renaissance. In fact, since 2001, the number of farmers markets in Michigan has grown from around 90 to more than 300.

I encourage families to support local growers, producers and even small winemakers by visiting the local farmers market. You can find a farmers market near you by visiting mifma.org/findafarmersmarket.

There are several farmers markets in southwest Michigan open through September or October, including markets in Benton Harbor, Buchanan, New Buffalo, Niles and St. Joseph.

The Michigan Capitol also hosts three farmers markets each year on the east lawn. The first one was in late July; the second one is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 23 and the third farmers market at the Capitol is scheduled for Sept. 20. These regularly attract over 100 vendors from across the state — such as Burda’s Berry Farm from Three Rivers — offering a wide array of produce, fruit, cheeses, baked goods, fish, soap, honey, cut flowers and more.

Wherever you go in Michigan, there’s sure to be something for everyone in the family at the local farmers market. While you enjoy the healthy food, you are also helping Michigan growers and the local economy.

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