Bellevue Park:Farmers MarketFrom roadside stands to farmers markets, the newly coined ‘agritourism’ sector in Michigan is exploding. According to the Michigan State University Product Center, Michigan’s agrifood-energy system contributes $71.3 billion (total economic impact) annually, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the state’s economy.
This time of year, it is easy to see the truth in those statistics. From farm fresh eggs to vegetables and canned goods, almost every fresh food is available for purchase in the local community.
The State of Michigan boasts the second most diverse agricultural sector in the country, according to the Michigan Agritourism organization. This means residents have the opportunity to explore new tastes and flavors without having to travel far from home. Right in Eaton County there are a number of fresh food options for residents. With Whitetail Farms in Olivet offering locally processed venison, Tirrell Farmstead Specialites offering meats, cheeses, and wool products, there seems to be no end to the availability of local items.
The prevalence of farmer’s markets has also grown during the past few years. Nearly every community hosts their own version and several are in operation in Eaton County. Bellevue’s market runs every Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. at Washington Park. In Charlotte, Courthouse Square is bustling with activity on Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. when the artisan and farmers market takes over the lawn. Eaton Rapids boasts two farmers markets, with Eaton Rapids Medical hosting a market each Friday from 3 to 6:30 p.m. and Kim Byerly oversees a second market that takes place each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the 200 block of Hall Street. Thursday evening in Dimondale is the time to stock up on fresh foods when the farmers market is open from 3 to 7 p.m. at 136 North Bridge Street.
Each corner of the county offers great opportunities to experience locally grown produce and locally created products. The Eaton Good Food Council ( provides a wealth of information for anyone looking to learn more about the local food scene.
It was formed with one goal – making good food a priority in Eaton County.
“For our group, good food means green, healthy, fair and affordable,” said MSU Extension Educator Becky Henne, one of the leaders of the group. “There is great opportunity for better nutrition for kids, better overall health, better connections between rural and urban and economic development, just to name a few. That is why we initially came together.”
The MSU Extension offers an online course about the Michigan Cottage Food Law. Participants receive a certificate when they complete the course, which costs a small fee due at registration. The law allows Michigan residents to manufacture and store particular foods in an unlicensed kitchen. The course can be accessed through