Flint is the New Jersey of Michigan. Well, without all the rich people, pharmaceutical companies and beachfront. Other than that, just like Jersey.
Most people experience my home state through the lens of the Newark Airport or the Jersey Turnpike. Its starring role in HBO’s Sopranos didn’t do much to change those gritty perceptions. Unless you’ve lived there, you’re likely to think that “the Garden State” is a misnomer. Jersey natives, however, know that sunny June days are for strawberries, hot July days are for blueberries in the Pine Barrens, even hotter days in August are for peaches, and finally, the cooler days of September are for the apple orchards in NJ’s northwest corner. All summer long, of course, it’s time for ripe, juicy Jersey tomatoes.
Mention Flint, and the response of most Michiganders is something like, “Can anything good come out of Flint?” If Michigan is one of the epicenters of the current recession, then Flint is an epicenter of an epicenter. Flint began to rust while the rest of the state was still flourishing.
So when we were visiting family in Michigan last week, and I mentioned that I wanted to visit the Flint Farmers’ Market, they were surprised, to say the least. My partner’s sister agreed to come with me, so I printed directions and we ventured out.
Getting there was easy–highway 475 to exit 8A. There were great signs directing us, though following them meant crossing three lanes quickly. We could tell even before we parked that coming had been a great decision.
The Flint Farmers’ Market is big. Not quite Pike Place, but definitely leaning in that direction. Open year round, it has indoor space for permanent vendors, and outside space for seasonal ones.
There’s a butcher shop, and several vendors selling poultry.
The cheese shop made me want to hand them a twenty-dollar bill and ask for a smidgen of everything.
Of course, I bought the farm-fresh, free-range eggs–but not the cute bantams shown here. The five of us ate the full dozen for dinner that night.
We both liked these raised beds–particularly the trapezoids, which could be arranged in any pattern. And yes, I had to look up the name of the shape.
The wine store that anchors one end of the indoor market was a big hit with my traveling companion, who took this photo to remember to track it down closer to home.
Everyone we met at the market was exceptionally friendly. The vendors were more than happy to answer our questions. My partner’s sister is a graphic designer for a small, family-owned grocery chain, and she made several connections, both for her freelance work and on behalf of her employers.
If you live in Michigan, the Flint Farmers’ Market is a great day trip. We spent a few hours, but easily could have spent three times as long there. They’re open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. If you’re elsewhere, I hope you’ll find time to visit a farmers’ market near you. How many other opportunities come your way to have fun–and do something good at the same time?