Michigan Seasonality

Rebekah Faivor, CTAI Technician

Did you know Michigan grown strawberries are available starting in June? Those sweet, almost miniature-sized berries, compared to California-sized, are one of the first fruits you will find at the outdoor farmers market. Fruit and vegetable plants cannot produce food all year here in Michigan due to the cold winters. In fact, many vegetables and fruits are only available for a short period of time. Rhubarb and Asparagus, for example, are usually only available 6-8 weeks Mid-April through Mid-June. Have you ever tried eating fruits and vegetables when they are only grown in Michigan? People who do this are eating seasonally.

Did you know? Produce that is shipped across the country is usually picked before it is fully ripe so it arrives to the final destination intact. This shipped produce is often not as flavorful as fruits and vegetables picked at peak ripeness. Locally grown produce uses less energy and resources than unseasonal produce shipped from other countries or states.

How do local farmers offer vegetables all year? Farmers have come up with innovative ways to expand the local growing season. Some farmers use row covers to get an early start, others use heated greenhouse, still others use unheated high tunnels. Some crops like apples, onions, and carrots are easily stored through the winter making them available for a longer period of time.

How can you eat more seasonal produce? Check out the MSU Center of Food Systems Michigan Guide to What’s in Season Now to see what vegetables and fruits are available now. Shop at your local farmers markets, join a local farm’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Share program, or eat at restaurants that purchase their fruits and vegetables from a local farmer and have a seasonal menu.