Capitol Lawn Lifts Farmers Markets

10/1/2012

Capitol Market on Sept 13th. Photo courtesy MIFMA and MIFFS. (view larger image)

Capitol Market on Sept 13th. Photo courtesy MIFMA and MIFFS.

Twelve years ago, Michigan’s total of 65 farmers markets paled in comparison to Illinois with 129 and Wisconsin with 147.

Today, however, Michigan ranks fourth in the nation, with more than 300 farmers’ markets operating in 2012.

Credit goes in part to high-profile visibility that the now twice-annual Farmers Market at the Capitol in Lansing has brought to the state’s healthy local food movement and the important role that farmers markets play.

Photos of Capitol Market on Sept 13th (top and lower) courtesy of Michigan Farmers’ Market Association (MIFMA) and Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS).

A farm stand at the Capitol Market on Sept 13th.

Photo courtesy of Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) and Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS).

The most recent Capitol lawn markets, on July 19 and Sept. 13, marked the event’s seventh year. Starting with just 17 vendors in 2005, the event is now up to 70 vendors and roughly 6,000 shoppers per market. The Michigan Farmers Market Association hosts the event in partnership with Michigan Food and Farming Systems and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which worked together in 2005 to start it.

“We usually have quite a few legislators who make a point of stopping by the MIFFS and MIFMA tents to chat and to find vendors in their regions,” said Emily Beutel, MIFFS communications manager. “Many, many state employees come down to shop, and Governors Snyder and Granholm have been regulars.”

This year’s Farmers Markets at the Capitol also demonstrated the power and leadership of Michigan’s farmers markets in making sure everyone has access to the fresh, healthy foods they offer.

The Capitol markets this year accepted Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) Bridge Cards, along with Double Up Food Bucks, WIC Project FRESH and Market FRESH, thanks to a partnership with Lansing’s Allen Street Farmers Market.

 “One-third of farmers markets in Michigan now accept Bridge Cards, up from only three markets in 2006,” said Dru Montri, MIFMA director.