Don’t let Michigan’s backwards spring keep you from the farmers’ markets

Whacky spring weather limits availability of some Michigan produce, but there’s still plenty of bounty available, especially to those who rely on assistance programs.

Michigan’s backwards spring weather did major damage to several tree-fruit crops, but that doesn’t mean that your trip to farm and farmers’ markets are wasted. There is still plenty of fresh Michigan product to enjoy and that’s especially important to those who rely on assistance programs to supply fresh foods to their families. Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, rhubarb, snap peas, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, zucchini, summer squashes, sweet corn, leaf and head lettuces, salad greens, radishes, spinach, cucumbers, onions, potatoes and winter squashes are some of the many fruits and veggies that will be available. Although fresh Michigan tree fruit will be in short supply, limited amounts will be available at farm stands and farmer’s markets – and well worth the effort to seek out.

Will there be any concern about the specific food assistance programs that have Michigan-only produce requirements? Those who qualify for programs like Project Fresh, Senior Project Fresh/ Market Fresh 2012 and Double Up Food Bucks will still be able to find ways to utilize their benefits. There will be plenty of choices available, and plenty of bang for your food bucks!

Buying local produce, whether through distributors or directly from farmers, supports local farm families and Michigan’s economy, which benefits all of us. It will be even more important this year to support our local farmers – especially those who have endured the tree fruit crop losses.

A new initiative from MSU Extension this year should be especially helpful when choosing, then using, your Michigan produce. Michigan Fresh helps people explore the state’s bounty of fresh, locally-grown fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamentals. Every week throughout the summer you’ll find information on recommended varieties, storage, food safety and preserving techniques for fruits and vegetables. Check it out! 

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