Farmers markets: Not just fair-weather fare anymore

Dec 18, 2011

Winter farmers markets are growing in popularity in Michigan.

In 2010, there were 19. This year, there are 33 winter markets.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan says Michigan is one of the top 10 states leading the trend.

She says more farmers are using hoop houses to extend their growing season. Hoop houses can be full-sized greenhouses or simple row covers.

"They protect the crop. A farmer can get in earlier in the season and stay in later," Merrigan says. "That  helps with the farmers markets in the winter, by the way. They're also important with pest management and nutrient management, so they're good for the environment."

Merrigan also says more food assistance recipients are using their benefits at farmers markets to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

The USDA offers a farmers market locator tool on its website.