Seeing larger-than-life apples around Metro Detroit? No need to get your eyes checked. It’s all part of the MI Apple Trail (pronounced “my apple trail”) project, which showcases Michigan’s largest fruit crop and the farmers markets that sell them.
Dan Carmody, president of Detroit’s Eastern Market, which is the oldest public market in the country, dreamt of artistic apples. “Dan had a dream of big apples like the cows (for the Cows on Parade exhibit) in Chicago and other public art,” said Denise Donohue, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee.
Carmody received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and enlisted the help of 20 local farmers markets to decorate four-foot fiberglass apples (also made in Michigan) and display them prominently at their markets. The apples will be on display at the markets until late September, when they’ll begin to make their way to Eastern Market for the Apple Gala and Auction on Oct. 14. There, the apples will be auctioned off, and proceeds will be given to the farmers markets where they originated.
“We are hoping big companies might bid on the apples,” Donohue said.
“There are 140ish crops grown in Michigan, and apples are the biggest fruit crop,” said Carmody. In fact, Michigan apples boast an annual economic impact of $700 million. MI Apple Trail aims to showcase apples and boost awareness of the local markets that sell them and other Michigan crops, Carmody explained.
“The public can participate,” Donohue added. “We created a passport system.” People can download a MI Apple Trail passport at www.miappletrail.com, visit any of the 20 participating markets and get their passports stamped. Passports with at least five stamps will be entered into a prize drawing, but they must be mailed by Oct. 8.
Participating farmers’ markets are in the following cities:
The public can also vote for their favorite decorative apple on the MI Apple Trail Web site, where photos of the 20 apples are housed. The apple with the most votes will win the People’s Choice Award.
For more information, visit www.miappletrail.com.