The Fulton St. Farmers Market near my house is always packed. Very popular. Better get there early for a parking spot - even though the lot surrounding it is fairly big, it is usually full and cars are spilling out in the surrounding neighborhood. The market itself carries a large variety of items - plenty of locally grown fruits and vegetables, of course, as well as homemade bread, cheeses, craft items like yard ornaments and handmade jewelry, soaps... and on and on. Usually you can find a hot dog cart and street musicians hanging around there as well, turning it into a nice place to sit and have a snack and listen to some tunes.
So it came as no surprise to see this story the other day, as I'm sure the scene is being repeated all across the state.
Today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its 2010 National Farmers Market Directory and Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for the most operational farmers markets. Currently, there are 271 operational farmers markets in Michigan listed in the USDA directory. California claimed the top spot with 580, followed by New York with 461, and Illinois with 286.
"Between 2008 and 2009, we saw a 13 percent increase in the number of farmers markets operating in the state," said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. "Dollars spent at area farmers markets are more likely to stay in Michigan, benefiting local communities and strengthening our economy."
As the state's second largest industry, Michigan's agri-food sector generates $71.3 billion annually, making it a building block for diversifying the state's economy. Production agriculture, food processing and related businesses employ more than one million people. Michigan produces more than 200 commodities, making it second only to California in terms of agricultural diversity.
Support your local farmers and craftsmen. I had a great sample of cheese made from goat's milk just the other day, and I can't get it out of my mind. I'm going back this week to get some. Ran into my neighbor while I was there, and she just loves some of the homemade bread they sell. Tells me it's cheaper than buying it in the store. So if you're in the neighborhood, be sure and check it out...