Guest Post: National Farmers Market Week

When you think of local food, what does that mean? To the Allen Farmers Market, it means everything! This week kicks off the 18thNational Farmers Market Week, running from August 6-12. We celebrate the farmers market every week year round, moving indoors during the colder winter months.

The Allen Farmers Market (AFM) is a vital part of the local economy selling produce, meats, cheese, baked goods, and even ready to eat dinner! The farmers vending at the market are all growing, producing, or creating in a 50 mile radius of the Allen Neighborhood Center, the home of the AFM. The local economy is impacted in a beneficial way through generating revenues for local vendors and attracting patrons from all over the Greater Lansing Area. Supporting local producers directly also supports their important tasks of preservation and continuation of production of agricultural land in Michigan. Farmers are modern day stewards of the land, caring for the crops in a beneficial way to preserve the future of that land.

The local farmers markets increase access to fresh and nutritious foods. When we look at produce in our large chain grocers, many of the items may be shipped in from California or Mexico. We depend on larger growers for our fresh produce in the off-season, but when in season, we support our local producers at the farmers market to fill our shopping baskets. When thinking about fresh and nutritious produce, think of the amount of time it takes in transportation. A train leaving a station in California traveling at 70 miles per hour will take…wait is this a math blog?! It takes about a week essentially for the produce to get all the way from there to here, taking that precious time away from our precious commodities. Now think about the farmers market, if a truck leaving from Lansing travels down Allen Street at 30 miles per hour, how long will it take to get there? Minutes.

The neighborhood surrounding the AFM is a USDA designated low income/low access community, also known as a food desert. The AFM, the Hunter Park GardenHouse, and other farmers markets try to fill this void in Lansing and many communities throughout the state. You can find markets near you through the Find A Farmers Markettool thanks to the Michigan Farmers Market Association.

Farmers markets are a great place to meet your local farmer and get some amazing flavors. Ask your farmer about something you have never heard of that is on their table for sale. See how you can explore different produce and venture out of your comfort zone. Meet a farmer, build a relationship and be part of a community.

John McCarthy

Exchange Manager, Allen Neighborhood Center