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More than just a Market: Grow Benzie

Farmers Markets, Find Local Food, Guest Post, Joshua Stoltz

Grow Benzie’s Farmers Market is celebrating its 6th year as one of the few afternoon markets available in the region. 

Conveniently located one mile west of the only stoplight in Benzie County (the corners of US 31 and M-115 in Benzonia) and five miles west of scenic M-22 in Frankfort, the farmers market was also one of the first to offer food assistance programs including Double Up Food Bucks and Senior Market Fresh.  Offering patrons an evening option on Mondays from 3-7:00pm has provided tourists and passer-byers a pleasant surprise if they’re new to the area, but also gives local chefs a chance to shop on their “slow day” and daily commuters a prime time for a quick stop on their way home from work.

In 2014, Grow Benzie was awarded a Farmers Market Promotion Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.  Over the past two years, these dollars have given Grow Benzie’s Farmers Market more exposure around the region and has also helped promote its commercial kitchen used by local entrepreneurs, caterers and educators.  Besides the kitchen and market, visitors enjoy tours of the property that includes a 3,000 square feet air conditioned community center, 15,000 square feet of hoop houses (filled with 35 varieties of 10’ tall heirloom tomato plants), active beehives, community gardens, and sewing studio.  The market vendors circle around an open, grassy courtyard with picnic tables and shade which make for a prime place to relax and enjoy time with friends and family.

This summer, Grow Benzie added a food truck to its array of programs, providing market fresh menu items and a mobile unit for off-site food demonstrations throughout the region.  The truck, affectionately nicknamed “Grill Benzie”, features ingredients purchased directly from farmers on site at both markets the truck vends: Grow Benzie on Mondays and Elberta Farmers Market on Thursday mornings.

For more information about Grow Benzie’s Farmers Market, food truck, educational programs or facilities available year-round for rental, visit GrowBenzie.org or call 231-882-9510.

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