Farmers markets are a great alternative to your family’s weekly trip to the grocery store. They offer quality produce and merchandise — oftentimes at comparable prices — and the opportunity to support local farmers and makers.
And since many local farmers markets are set up at parks or along the beach, a trip to the farmers market can be an outing that your family can look forward to — rather than a dreadful, two-hour chore.
Here, we spoke with representatives from two local farmers markets to find out why.
What’s at the farmers market?
In Macomb County, families can find a true experience at more than 20 farm stands, farmers markets and community supported agriculture locations.
Some of these spots, like Blake Farms in Armada, are permanent locations that offer berry- and apple-picking throughout the year, along with more farm fun.
“We hosted as many as 135 participants in 2020, which included local farmers with produce and plants, along with a mushroom farmer, garlic farmers and locally-produced honey,” says Debra Williams, an MIFMA-certified market manager with the New Baltimore Farmers Market, a 501(c)(3) non-profit community organization. In addition, “we have handmade items of all kinds (including) purses made from raw cork that is farmed from cork trees, handmade jewelry, figurines and stained glass.”
This particular market also offers food products such as baked goods, as well as spices, popcorn, and jams that fall under the Michigan Cottage Food law. It is also one of the few farmers markets that offers a limited number of direct sales such as Tupperware and Scentsy.
Why visit with kids?
In addition to a wide selection of items for sale, many farmers markets also offer plenty of things for families to do, in addition to shopping.
The New Baltimore Farmers Market is located in the northeast corner of Macomb County on the shoreline of Anchor Bay on Lake St. Clair. Just steps away is Walter and Mary Burke Park, which offers an open beach, board walk, fishing spots and playscapes. The market is open on Sundays from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
The , which is open 8 a.m.- 2 p.m. select Sundays and 5-9 p.m. select Thursdays May-October, is also located in a park full of great amenities for kids and often features a food truck rally, live music, a petting zoo and more.
“We always have food trucks, which is a lot of fun (and) we always incorporate a lot of kids activities,” says Henry Bowman, the Director of Parks and Recreation with the City of St. Clair Shores.
This year, the market has partnered with the Metro Detroit Kiwanis Club to present the “Children are our Future” event, which will feature meet-and-greets with K-9 police officers and members of the community’s fire department.
Family fun is not the only thing that your local farmers market has to offer. Families can use a visit as a chance for your kids to help with the family’s menu and get excited to try new food.
“It’s always a great occasion to have kids help select veggies, plants and other food projects and even sampling items,” Williams says.
And because kids are welcome to come to the farmers market in costume, ask questions and be themselves, they can learn about what their parents are buying, too.
“We find it’s an environment that’s more conducive to positive children and family experiences because it’s open air, it’s spread out and it has a different vibe,” Williams explains. “There’s a person operating each space that is interactive with kids, and I think that encourages them to try new things and pick out new foods.”
“It is a total experience,” Bowman adds. “You’re not going to see three farmers and then go home. Last year, our smallest market had 60 different vendors, so there really is something for everyone.”
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