May 22 07:02 PM
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Mission is accomplished

Dear Editor,

The mission of the Lapeer Farmers Market is to connect the local community with the freshest, healthiest locally grown produce we have available. We are able to bring local farmers together with the community so they can talk with the farmers, know where the produce came from and reap the benefits of locally grown.

When produce is locally grown and hasn't had to travel hundreds of miles before it gets to the customers' plates, it retains all its nutritional benefits. It has just been picked the night before or the morning of market. We not only offer the best available produce to our community, but we are able to offer locally raised beef and buffalo meat, free-range eggs, cheese, local honey and maple syrup.

This year we had our first 'Know Your Food/Know Your Farmer' meeting in April. This was to connect our community with the farmers that would be at the market this year and to educate the community about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Two of our farmers have started CSAs this year. By purchasing a share of a farm (CSA), the customer gets a share of the produce grown each week for the entire season. CSAs provide nutritious produce to the customers and also help our local farms survive.

Last fall the Lapeer Farmers Market became a member of the Michigan Farmers Market Association. This has been very beneficial to us by providing workshops, etc. that allow us to grow and improve oru farmers market. Across the nation people are realizing how important it is to know who is growing our food.

A goal for this year was to get approved to be able to accept EBT, the Michigan Food Stamp Program. We received that approval and are very excited as that allows customers that have the Michigan Bridge Card for food to be able to shop for the freshest, healthiest food available to them. Many farmers markets are being approved for EBT to encourage healthier eating. Our farmers also accept Project Fresh coupons that are provided to local seniors and mothers receiving WIC so they can benefit from locally raised produce. 'Buy Local, Buy Fresh' is our motto again this year.

Strawberries are our first fruit that we will have available at the market. This year we plan on letting our customers know how healthy a strawberry is for their health. Strawberries protect your heart, increase HDL ('good' cholesterol), lower your blood pressure and guard against cancer. Packed with vitamins, fiber and particularly high in levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols, strawberries are sodium free, fat free, cholesterol free and low in calories. They are among the top 20 fruits in antioxidant capacity and are a good source of manganese and potassium. Strawberries have always been very popular at the market and this year our customers will learn how great they are for their health.

Each year we look for new ways to educate our local community on the benefits of buying their food locally while also providing an outlet for our local farmers to sell their products. I am proud to be the market master for the Lapeer Farmers Market and look forward to each year. Connecting our local community with our local farmers is our goal.

Denise Becker, Lapeer Farmers Market Master
July 16, 2008

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