Holland, MI – Shop local. Eat local. Locally grown. We hear these phrases daily. And in Ottawa County, those phrases mean a huge variety of foods – strawberries, cranberries, black beans, apples, blueberries, cheese, eggs, pork, and chicken are just to name a few. All of these foods and many more are grown right here in Ottawa County by the farmers who are our neighbors. And on June 9, Ottawa County Farm Bureau partnered with The Shops at Westshore to put on an event where these farmers could greet the public, answering questions about where food comes from, how it is produced, and why it is produced that way. The families attending this free event enjoyed a huge variety of product samples, exhibits, live animals, and one on one chats with farmers. Kids could take a break with bounce houses, activities, and food trucks.
“Educating consumers about where their food comes is a something that is weaved through everything we do here at Ottawa County Farm Bureau,” commented event chair Joe Austin. Austin is the Assistant County Administrator for Ottawa County Farm Bureau and used his event planning skills learned during his time with Muskegon’s Summer Celebration to put together this inaugural event in Holland. “Ottawa County producers want to tell their story. They are proud of what they do and that they have the privilege to feed their neighbors.”
Many Ottawa County residents enjoy the bucolic farm scenery as they drive through the countryside. They love going apple picking and to pumpkin patches in the fall. But in Ottawa County, farming is also big business. The County ranks 3rd statewide in total value of agricultural products. There are 88 family farms producing blueberries on 5,900 acres in Ottawa County. The County ranks in the top ten in dairy, egg, turkey, and broiler chicken production. Michigan ranks 2nd nationwide in celery production, and the largest celery farm in the state is located in Hudsonville. Ottawa County even has cranberry bogs! There is so much to know about local agriculture, and no one better to tell that story than the folks who do it every day as their livelihood.