By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District
Michigan is one of the great agriculture states. We produce more than 300 different crops, including apples, tart cherries, blueberries, dry beans, asparagus, cucumbers, and many, many more. This makes Michigan second only to California in agricultural diversity.
In addition, the food and agriculture industry contributes more than $100 billion annually to the state’s economy. With 923,000 people employed in this industry or a directly related one, this sector of the economy accounts for about 22 percent of the state’s employment.
Producing these hundreds of commodities are Michigan’s thousands of farms, orchards and vineyards. And some of the best places to find your favorite produce is at one of hundreds of farmers markets across the state.
Farmers market season is in full swing, which means accessing the best of this fresh produce is now as simple as a short drive to your local market.
Oakland County is home to the Oakland County Farmers Market in Waterford, which is open year round on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. In addition, there are at least 15 other markets being held this year in Oakland County with varied hours and offerings. Visit OaklandCountyMoms.com and search for “Oakland County Farmers Markets 2018” for more information.
This year, as in years past, there also will be three farmers markets at the Capitol, held on July 26, Aug. 23 and Sept. 20. Each year, nearly 100 vendors from all over the state travel to Lansing to attend these events. They bring a wide array of products, including all manner of produce, cheeses, baked goods, fish, soap, honey, cut flowers and more.
In addition to offering quality goods for sale, these markets showcase our state’s food and agricultural products to educate my colleagues and me on the importance of supporting farmers, ag-based businesses, and farmers markets.
Whether here in Oakland County, in northern Michigan or the U.P., at the Capitol in Lansing, or in numerous other locations across the state, there’s sure to be something for everyone in the family at a Michigan farmers market. Best of all, while you enjoy healthy, flavorful food and other products, you help Michigan growers and the local economy at the same time.
So this year, be sure to head to a farmers market near you!
This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.