Winter farmers markets proliferate across Michigan

Farmers markets in Michigan are utilizing public spaces in unique ways to continue to provide locally-grown and processed food during the cold winter months.

During the summer and fall, in villages, towns and cities, farmers markets are in full bloom with festive sights, sounds and smells. Markets sport colorful tents, banners and signs, people are browsing, buying and socializing, and some markets even provide live music to add to the festive vibe.

Once harvest season is over and the weather turns cold, what happens? While seasonal markets pack up until summer comes around again, increasing numbers of markets are moving indoors. With the advent of season extending growing techniques, such as hoop houses (also known as high tunnels), increasing numbers of producers are making locally-grown food available throughout the winter.

Meridian Mall Farmers Market

Photo Credit: Meridian Township, Winter Farmers Market website

When the weather turned cold in the fall of 2013, the Allen Street Farmers Market in Lansing, Mich. moved inside, thanks to space provided in their newly-opened food hub, the Allen Market Place. You can see pictures of the winter market vendors, the produce they offer and the colorful new space on their website.

In Kalamazoo, Mich., Bronson Methodist Hospital has been offering a bi-monthly farmers market to employees and community members for the past 5 years. Read more about this winter market in an article published by Michigan State University Extension.

The Meridian Farmers Market in Okemos, Mich. has a creative solution to providing indoor market space to the public. The market utilizes the Meridian Mall for its winter market on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays from December through April.

Increasing numbers of people are using the SNAP (formerly food stamps) benefits to purchase healthy, fresh and local food by shopping at farmers markets that accept the Michigan Bridge Card. This list, provided by the Michigan Farmers Market Association, shows the winter markets across Michigan accepting the Bridge Card.

MSU Extension works to support the development and sustainability of farmers markets because they shorten the supply chain and increase access to fresh, local food. Don’t let winter weather impede your access; find and patronize a winter market near you!

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