In honor of the 20th annual National Farmers Market Week (August 4 -10, 2019), the Washtenaw County Farmers Market has introduced a new way to attract visitors: a passport.
With this passport, until August 31, customers have the chance to win prizes by visiting farmers markets in the Washtenaw County area.
Participating farmers markets include: Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Cobblestone, Dexter, Dixboro, Manchester, Milan, Pittsfield Township, Saline, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, Webster, Westside and Ypsilanti.
"We are lucky to have such a robust local food system here in Washtenaw County, but people often aren’t aware of all the opportunities available for them to buy fresh, local and delicious food,” said Tedi Milgrom, health educator at Washtenaw County Health Department and coordinator of the Washtenaw County Farmers Markets Initiative. "The goal is to encourage people to visit new markets, meet new farmers and vendors and explore parts of the county they do not regularly seek out.”
Passports are available at the information booth or office of all 13 Washtenaw County Farmers Markets. Hours, days and address of each market are available on the passport and at www.washtenawmarkets.org.
At each market visited, customers are encouraged to have their passport stamped and return it to any participating market by September 2. Participants can also submit their stamped passports on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #washtenawmarketspassport. Prize drawings will be held the first week of September. Prizes include gift certificates and market swag.
“Farmers markets provide a great opportunity to buy fresh, local, delicious food, meet the people who grow or make the food and learn where your food comes from," Milgrom said. “They strengthen regional farms and food businesses, promote ecological stewardship, improve food security, increase fresh food access, encourage community and social engagement and facilitate urban and rural connection.”
Milgrom said she hopes this passport program will teach customers something new about the local food system in Washtenaw County.
“Maybe they’ll visit a new farmers market, discover a new fruit or vegetable, talk to a farmer about their growing practices, or learn about one of the many food assistance programs accepted at many of the farmers markets," she said.
Colleen Joseph works as a Local Food Access Intern at the Washtenaw County Health Department. She assists in the health department’s mission in connecting people to community food resources, promoting the benefits of healthy eating and helping people build the skills and motivation to eat healthier.
“So far we have seen many Washtenaw County Farmers Markets promoting the passport on their social media accounts so we hope the word is spreading," Joseph said.
Joseph said she hopes that through this program people learn the importance of shopping locally and supporting local farmers.
“Shopping at your local farmers market is not only a fun way to interact with your community, but it also supports local farmers and the local economy,“ Joseph said. “When you spend your dollar locally at the farmers markets, you are purchasing food that was grown and harvested from miles away rather than thousands of miles away. This might not seem like a big deal but it actually is a great way to live more sustainably and reduce your carbon footprint."