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Fruits in costumes + shoeboxes with creepy things = FUN!

It was a dark and stormy night ...

 Actually, it was a pretty nice fall Saturday at the Haunted Market on October 26. Oh, it was gray and chilly, but the festive mood with tons of kids and adults in costume warmed the soul, if not the feet. 

We began with a special tasting of a fruit that almost nobody, including parents, had ever heard of: ground cherries, also known as cape gooseberries. The fruit, which was hidden in a lantern-shaped husk, was sweet and sour in taste, and all but a few of the tasters liked it. Several of our farmers grow it, including Brightmoor Farms and Xiong’s Fresh Asian Produce.

Ground cherries aren't just pretty; they're also nutritious. They are an excellent source of Vitamins A, C, and B-3 (Niacin). They are also a good source of Vitamins B-1 (thiamin) and offer Vitamin B-2 (riboflavin) and the minerals non-heme iron, calcium, and phosphorus. Thanks to its golden orange color from phytochemicals called carotenoids, the ground cherry has many anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties and can help protect against the risk of heart disease and poor eye, skin, and bone health. 

The second activity was making thank you cards for the farmers who took part in our program this summer, which was all of them. Couldn’t have done it without them. This activitiy also a;;pwed the kids a chance to use one of their favorite "brushes" -- fresh veggies including broccoli, celery and corn.

The third challenge was not for the faint of heart. Four covered shoeboxes with small holes cut in one side held mysterious items that kids and adults tried to correctly identify by blindly reaching in their hands. We stuck to our prime objective of being produce forward, so what was labeled witch’s teeth actually was fresh corn cut from the cob. Graveyard worms were zucchini noodles left from our September meeting that had been frozen, then thawed. A ghoul’s brain was roasted cauliflower. And the oo-iest, goo-iest was a vampire’s heart – actually a canned skinned tomato.

We’re not sure who had more fun, those sticking their hands in the boxes or those watching their reactions! 

And so the second year of the POP! Club ended with a bang. We distributed 120 vouchers that day, bringing our total participation number for the season to 475. That’s an average of 95 kids per meeting, an almost 60 percent increase over last year! 

We want to thank our families who took part, our farmers who provided the produce and our sponsors, Beaumont and the Farmington & Farmington Hills Foundation for Youth and Families. Thanks to everyone for making all this possible. The planning for 2020 has begun. See you next year!!


Tiny tomatoes, farmer jokes and zoodles

September 14 was Italian-American Day at the market, so the POP! Club joined in the fun, offering tiny currant tomatoes and fresh basil for tasting and making zucchini noodles, or zoodles, with a spiralizer, which Popsters also were encouraged to taste.

Other activities were telling jokes to Farmer Matt and the always popular art table, where kids made stamp art with corn and eggplants.

Look for us one more time this season, at the October 26 Haunted Market for lots of spoooooky fun. Join us ... if you dare!

Here are photos from Saturday's POP! Club:


Health benefits of ...


Tomatoes are known for their heart health benefits – in fact, they are one of the best sources of the carotenoid, lycopene! They also are a great source of potassium and vitamins C and A.  So cook up your own tomato sauce or snack on some of those cute currant tomatoes at least a few times a week!


We don’t usually consider herbs as a good source of nutrients, but they in fact offer quite a range of benefits. Basil, in particular, has anti-inflammatory properties and is also a good source of vitamin K!  Using fresh herbs will offer the most benefit, so chop up a couple of leaves and add them to your salad, soup or pasta sauce!


Zucchini is one of the lowest-calorie vegetables, coming in at only 19 calories a cup. Zucchini also packs a nutritious punch. One raw medium zucchini, including its skin, boasts 56 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin C. It also delivers 11 percent of your daily value of vitamin K, 16 percent of riboflavin, 21 percent of vitamin B-6 and 14 percent of folate. Other vitamins present in lesser quantities include vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamin, niacin and pantothenic acid. It’s especially rich in the minerals potassium and manganese. with smaller amounts of calcium, iron, sodium, zinc and selenium.

Zucchini is also a super low-carb fruit, containing only 4 grams of carbs per cup when eaten raw. Plus, its high water content means it’ll keep you feeling fuller longer! 

POP! goes sweet corn at our third meeting, August 10

At our third meeting, on August 10,  POP! Clubbers hunted for patty pan squash in the market, tasted fresh Michigan sweet corn straight off the cob, and learned about how corn is used in our food supply, from corn meal to tortillas to popcorn and snacks! Younger POP! Clubbers also played in a bin of cracked corn and learned which animals enjoy corn as a part of their diet. It was a fun and informational day for all!

At our next meeting, on September 14 - Italian American Day - we will join in the fun with tomatoes, basil and zucchinis. Ever see spaghetti made from zucchini? You will that day, so come join in the fun! And don't forget our final get together on October 27 - the Haunted Market. Come play with your food ... if you dare ...

Here are photos from August 10:





POP! Club returns with peas in a pod and a useful tool. Oh, and finding duck eggs.

What do peas and cherries have in common? They were both part of the activities at the second Kids POP! Club meeting of the year on Saturday, July 13. (Scroll down for nutritional information on both and for a cherry yogurt popsicle recipe!)

Both provided hands-on opportunities for the kids to play with their food and find out where one of their favorite veggies comes from. But first came the scavenger hunt. We told the kids that a farmer (Travis Schulert of from Great Lakes Perma Dynamics) brought duck eggs to the market. They had to find the eggs – a sign marked the spot – and then ask the farmer what the duck eggs could be used for (baking).

The other two challenges also produced the tastings. For the peas, each child was given a sweet pea pod and then was encouraged to break off an end and “unzip” it to find … beautiful little green balls, also known as peas! That was only the first surprise. Then they got to taste them and find out how sweet they really are fresh out of the pod. A few participants knew about the surprise inside; a couple even demonstrated how you can eat the whole pod!

The cherries offered a different challenge – how do you enjoy one when you must worry about the pit, or seed? The answer: cherry pitters! Each participant got to try a cherry pitter (also works on olives) and was pleasantly surprised when the pit flew out, leaving behind a tasty, pit-free treat. As usual, our farmers donated the peas and cherries, so we knew they’d be super fresh.
We also offered stamp pads for art projects but with a POP! twist – stamps were different vegetables and fruit. 

After meeting the challenges, each child received a $3 voucher to purchase their own nutritious item at the market. And 100 kids did just that!

If you think all this sounds like fun, wait till our next meeting on August 10. We’ll learn about corn and spend a few minutes chatting up our farmers in honor of National Farmers Market week. See you then!


Health benefits of ...

There's a reason your mom always tells you to eat your peas! One cup of peas offers a full serving of protein (8g!) and about a 1/3 of your fiber for the day. It's also a great source of vitamin C and A and provides a decent amount of iron, magnesium, vitamin B6, and potassium! That's a lot of nutrition in such a little veggie! So add them to your pasta or salad, or snack on them right out of the garden.

Cherries are one of Michigan’s finest summer treats. And great news: They pack a great nutritional punch! This cousin of the peach (yup, they’re stone fruits, too), is full of antioxidants like vitamin C and carotenoids. They are also a decent source of potassium and fiber.  

First POP! of the season: radishes and strawberries and finding mushrooms

About 70 kids stopped by our first POP! Club meeting of the year on Saturday, June 8, and they all faced and completed their three challenges:
     1. Tasting radishes
     2. Finding the morel mushrooms in the market
     3. Hulling a strawberry, which they then got to eat

We'll be back on Saturday, July 13, with more fun things to do and nutritional things to learn. Meanwhile, you can try this recipe using radishes and peas: 


Health benefits of ...

This root vegetable is easy to grow and is commonly found in Michigan gardens for this reason. Besides being an easy vegetable, they also offer some great health benefits. Radishes are high in vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant helping to boost the immune system. They are also a decent source of fiber, which acts as a prebiotic in the gut and helps with digestion. If your little ones loved tasting them at the market – and many did! – try adding them to your garden and let your kids help with the harvest!

Morel mushrooms

Morel mushrooms are a hidden gem in Michigan and are one of the few wild mushrooms that are edible (once cleaned and cooked, of course). Morels are a great source of iron for both men and women, which is essential for energy and oxygenation of cells. They also boast a large amount of phosphorus, which is important for bone formation. These mushrooms are full of surprises from their meaty texture and taste to their many health benefits and make a great addition to soups, meats, sauces and more!


Photos from the first POP! Club of 2019!


Come to the Kids’ POP! Club on National Children's Day – Saturday, June 8!

We’re kicking off a new season of the Kids’ POP! Club on Saturday, June 8, which is also National Children’s Day. Perfect timing!

Some background: POP stands for the Power of Produce and is a national program that teaches kids 4-12 years old where food comes from and why buying local, fresh produce at a farmers market gives you the best choice and nutrition. It’s free to join, and after meeting a few challenges members will receive a $3 voucher to shop the market and make their own healthy choices. 

The program is sponsored by Beaumont and also made possible by a contributing grant from the Farmington & Farmington Hills Foundation for Youth and Families.

We started the program last year with three meetings (plus a special Haunted Market one) and had so much fun that we’re expanding to four this summer. We'll be going where no POP! Club member has gone before!

Oh, we’ll still offer food samplings, scavenger hunts and POP! bucks. But we’ll also look at fruit and veggies in different ways. For instance, did you know you can make noodles out of zucchini? Or that tomatoes and cucumbers prank us by actually being fruits, not vegetables?

So mark these dates on your calendar: June 8, July 13, August 10, September 14 and October 26 for a special Halloween get-together at the Haunted Market. And come play with your food at the POP! Club — it promises to be a healthy, fun season!

Kids' POP! Club ends 2018 season with a bang!

Saturday, Oct. 13, was the last meeting of the Kids' POP! Club at the Market this season, and the several dozen children attending were met with lots of fun challenges!

Food samples included brussel sprouts, courtesy of Uhlianuk Specialties from the Farm; mushrooms donated by Forest Treats, and pumpkin seeds, all washed down with apple cider, courtesy of Kapnick Orchards.  

The Scavenger Hunt led the kids through the market with their eyes on pumpkin patches, looking for a pumpkin all dressed in his costume for Halloween.

Staying in the holiday spirit, older children - and some younger ones - dared to dip their hands into an open pumpkin to feel the pumpkin guts. Then there were apple prints to make and thank you cards to sign for all the participating farmers.

Last but not least were special giveaways for each child - a scratch-off Halloween ornament, a temporary fruit or veggie tattoo and a fresh apple, donated by the R.B. Miller Farm. It was a fun end to a very fun first season for the Kids' POP! Club.

See you next year!

POP! Club's third meeting - making cauliflower rice

The third meeting of the Kids POP! Club, on Sept. 8, faced the potential disadvantage of a chilly, cloudy day. But the less-than-perfect weather couldn't keep the kids away.

A total of 68 boys and girls - 25 of whom were new - met three new POP! challenges: tasting peaches, finding a metal toy tractor amidst eggplants and learning about cauliflower rice, a new way to get more vegetables into your meals.

POP! Club nutritionist Julie Stevens handled the cauliflower challenge. First she offered a tasting of orange cauliflower that came from the market's Fusilier Family Farm; other color variations for the vegetable are purple and green. Then she let the kids try grating white cauliflower into rice-like pieces using a standard box grater or a mini-chopper with a pull handle. Children and parents received a recipe for Market Stir Fry with Cauliflower Rice along with nutritional information.

Parents received a special tip that cauliflower rice can be subbed for half the regular cooked rice in a recipe, thereby increasing a child's vegetable intake. All in all, a very satisfying POP! Club day

The next POP! Club meeting, on Oct. 13, will be our last for this season. Come help us celebrate a great first year!


POP! Club's second meeting - fun with farmer questions

The market's Kids' POP! Club had its second meeting on August 11 and drew almost 70 new and returning members. The food tasting - purple peppers and romaine lettuce - was pulled from one of the recipes distributed, while the big challenge was to ask a farmer a question, in acknowledgment of National Farmers Market Week. It was a fun day for the kids and the farmers, too!>

Next club meeting is Sept. 8. See you there!!!

Kids' POP! Club starts with a bang!

We introduced upward of 90 kids to local farmers and fresh produce as part of our new food awareness program, Power of Produce, at the July 14 Farmers Market. Our goal is to kindle an interest in these kids as to where food comes from and what’s in season while sampling, scavenging and shopping the market with free vouchers as new members of our monthly Kids’ POP! Club. 

Market food co-ordinator Micki Skrzycki was beaming as she led groups of kids
on a tour of the market co-hosted by farmer Jonathon Goetz from the Goetz Family Farm & Greenhouse, a market mainstay for more than 12 years.

 “As an educator with Farmington schools, I’m used to motivating and coaching, but I never had a more eager and curious group than here at the market,” Skrzycki said.

Following are photos of kid-produce encounters from July 14. Our next POP! Club meeting will be August 11. Details of how the club works comes after the photos.





Here’s how the POP Club works:

The POP Club takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month – still to come are August 11, Sept. 8 and Oct. 13. It’s open to children aged 4 to 12 who are with a parent. Look for our tent with its special banner.

Children register for the program by signing a POP ticket. Then they face three challenges: taste a fresh fruit or vegetable, go on a scavenger hunt and solve a puzzle or riddle. Once those challenges are met, the child unlocks the POP Portal and receives $3 in POP Bucks, with which he or she buys fresh produce at a farmer’s stand. Each child also receives a shopping bag that contains a nutritional recipe developed by Julia Stevens, MPH, RDN, Registered Dietitian and Health Coach, owner of Active Nutrition LLC based in Farmington Hills and a market volunteer.

On the last day of the program – Oct. 13 – we’ll celebrate with a POP Party that will include healthy snacks, games and prizes.

All this is made possible by our generous benefactors …


… and our tireless market volunteers. Together we make the Farmers Market the special experience it is!!