Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation. We grow more varieties of crops than anywhere but California. Unlike the Golden State, our weather is much more seasonal, which means what fresh locally-grown food is available really varies throughout the spring, summer, and fall.
Farmers markets are your best source of locally-grown produce. You will find fresh items that are grown in smaller quantities, and therefore not necessarily available in retail stores. You can also ask the farmers questions about how to select and prepare the items you wish to purchase. To find the markets in your area, or in an area to which you are traveling, consult this excellent map from the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA).
Sometimes grocers mismark items as being locally-grown when they are not. One way to avoid mistakenly purchasing items that are not local, is to know what is in season. Knowing what is in season can also help you plan menus with the freshest ingredients for your family.
Asparagus season in Michigan winds down in June. The good news is, this is a widely-grown crop across the state, so it is likely to be found in retail outlets as well as farmers markets.
Broccoli begins to make an appearance this month and will typically continue to be available through October.
Celery is grown mostly in Southwestern Michigan, and will become available typically around mid-June. It might surprise you to know that Michigan ranks second in the nation in celery production, which is why there’s even a museum of sorts dedicated to it—Celery Flats Interpretive and Historical Center in Portage.
Cherries and Berries are finally here! As most Michiganders know, Traverse City is the cherry capital of the world, particularly tart cherries for pies. We also grow a great many blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries across the state, all of which appear in markets this month.
Flowers are a welcome sight this time of year. Avoid national chains when purchasing flowers to accent your yard. Michigan ranks first in the nation in the growth of begonias, geraniums, impatiens, and petunias, and they are much more likely to be locally-grown when you purchase them from an independent nursery or greenhouse.
Greens are ready to harvest in a great many varieties. Fill your salads and top your sandwiches this month with locally-grown arugula, cabbage, chard, kale; lettuce, and spinach.
Herbs also become plentiful in June. Cilantro, fennel, mint, and parsley are just a few of the varieties you will begin to see. Not only are these for sale in retail stores and farmers markets, the locally-grown plants can often be found in nurseries so you can consider replanting at home. There’s nothing like stepping onto your porch or into your yard to pick fresh herbs for a sauce or sauté.
Rhubarb is commonly found in Michigan at this time of year. While many think of it as a vegetable, it’s actually legally classified as a fruit. Sold by the stalk, like celery, it is very tart, and is best when cooked or baked with some sugar added. If you haven’t had a strawberry-rhubarb pie yet, you’re in for a treat.
Root Vegetables begin to make appearances this month as well. You’ll find beets, carrots, radishes, and parsnips available both in stores and stands.
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