NELDON: Still time to support farmers, artisans

Did you know there are more than 700 types of garlic? Have you ever seen what happens when you sand and polish the inside of a tree? Did you know that, despite signs boasting “Concord grapes” all along the highway, that most in-season locally grown grapes on grocery store shelves are actually Fredonia grapes (which taste almost exactly the same)?

I learned all these things and more last weekend.

As the temperature dropped 10 degrees and the tantalizing wafts of crumpled leaves began hinting that autumn was coming, I was itching for an excuse to get out of the house and enjoy some socially distanced outdoor fun.

In three days, my mom and I traveled to three farmers markets, countless fruit stands and just about every corner of Berrien County.

We found beautiful mums ready to pop, gourds, pumpkins, grapes, peaches, ready-to-bake pies and even apple cider — all grown or made from items grown right here in southwest Michigan.

At the farmers markets in Buchanan, Bridgman and New Buffalo, we met artisans from all over Michiana, and took time to listen to their stories.

We met a woman selling homemade baked goods to raise funds for a child with cancer in Buchanan.

We met makers of flavored popcorn, homemade ice cream, homemade dips and dozens of varieties of jams and salsas.

We saw homemade stuffed animals, bracelets made out of recycled belts, handmade organic soap, bookmarks made out of spoons and all sorts of homemade face coverings.

It was a pleasure to see the pride in farmers’ faces as they educated shoppers about the fruits of their labor, and, although I’m not at all crafty, I had a lot of fun talking with artisans about how they make and market their wares.

These markets featured everything from hobbyists looking to make some extra cash to entrepreneurs taking the leap into running a business. Many times throughout the weekend I heard vendors springing to action to help their competitors when they ran out of change, needed to better strap down their canopies or struggled to help a customer.

At each market, vendors and customers respectfully wore masks and kept their distance even outside in the open air, and hand sanitizer was available at almost every booth.

There is a true community atmosphere at each of these events, and an entrepreneurial spirit that is exciting to support.

Although summer is winding down, there are still a few more weeks to support our local farmers and artisans. Check out:

• Buchanan Farmers’ Market — Saturdays through Oct. 10 in the Buchanan Commons

• Dowagiac Farm and Artisan Market, Saturdays through October, Division and Railroad streets in Dowagiac

• Skip’s European Open-Air Farmers’ Market — Saturdays through Oct. 10 at Skip’s, 16710 Lake Shore Road, New Buffalo

• Bridgman Open Air Market, Sundays through September, 4509 Lake St., Bridgman

• St. Joe Farmers Market, Saturdays through Oct. 10 on the bluff in downtown St. Joseph

As we continue to take precautions while gathering for events, this is a great opportunity to safely get out of the house and support fellow southwest Michigan residents. Who knows what you might find?

Berrien County

Brandywine Middle/High School to go remote Oct. 23 to 30

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 152,862 cases, 7,129 deaths

Cass County

Cass District Library to host annual book sale

Cass County

Missing dog found shot, family grieving after five day search

Dowagiac

Honor Credit Union donates to annual Tree of Love campaign

Berrien County

Spectrum Health reinforces commitment to equity

News

Candidates for 78th district seat participate in community forum

Berrien County

Berrien County Trial Court receives continued funding

Business

Niles businesses collaborate to sweeten their offerings

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Berrien, Cass counties report one new COVID-19 death each

Cass County

Overdose fatality linked to ‘purple heroin’ in Van Buren County

Buchanan

Three new projects on the horizon for Buchanan

Business

New yoga studio opens in downtown Niles

Dowagiac

Dowagiac clerk shares answers to voter FAQs

Buchanan

Expansion underway at Niles-Buchanan YMCA location

Berrien County

Third annual writers conference goes virtual Saturday

News

Fire contained at former National Standard building

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Berrien County reports three new COVID-19 deaths

Dowagiac

Patrick Hamilton Elementary School closes for three days due to COVID-19

Dowagiac

Don, Joan Lyons donate $28,000 to Dowagiac Union Schools

Buchanan

Registration open for YMCA’s 39th annual Thanksgiving Day Run

Dowagiac

Dowagiac schools receive positive audit

News

Niles Township passes sewage increase

Business

Four Flags Antique Mall acquires new owners