From Farm to Family

Lori Murray, Cameron County Master Gardener, Texas Superstar Specialist

One of the things we enjoy when we make our annual summer trip to Michigan is our Saturday visit to the local Farmers Market.  Although the market is open year-round, the main season is May through October, and the participating vendors must grow or make the products they bring for sale during that time.

Flowers and fruits, herbs and vegetables are produced in abundance. Just entering the area provides a splendid feast for the eyes as most of the flowers are outdoors and present a medley of gorgeous color.  This year we caught the end of the flower season and the beginning of the vegetable offerings.  Big ears of corn and large red tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and beets, blueberries and cherries, abounded. And the herb selection was truly impressive.

A new addition was very large display of succulents that I learned was the result of a hurricane in Florida that had depleted the succulents there and had spurred local Michigan growers to fill some greenhouses with a variety of plants that are increasing in popularity in the area.  There was even a separate section set apart for purslane that noted its health benefits and encouraged people to grow it for that reason.  And, of course, just as we saw in France, one of the vendors offered delicious Mexican food.

While a variety of food is offered for consumption on the spot, no visit to this Farmers Market is complete without a big glass of fresh lemonade.  One of my favorite memories is seeing that both grandchildren got one each time we went and enjoying their response to the sweet treat.  There is also quite a variety of offerings inside the building where baked goods, eggs, honey and maple syrup (in season,) holiday décor, metal sculpture, soaps, and other artisan products are displayed.

The Oakland County Farmers Market hosts more than 100 farmers and artisans, representing 17 Michigan Counties.  It is accessible from bus stops (marked with a sunflower icon) along the SMART #752 bus route, and it accepts food assistance benefits.  It provides wagons to help shoppers who accumulate a lot of produce and a wheelchair for patron use.  Parking is provided and a county lot takes any overflow.

Michigan State University Extension Master Gardeners and several other associations have teamed with the market to offer bi-weekly educational programs such as garden and lawn tips, recipes and canning/preserving produce, backyard habitats, free health information and screenings and more.  A brochure provides a chart of when fruits and vegetables are available and a list of MSUE programs and the dates they are offered.