Last night, on a bike ride on the outskirts of town, my husband and I came upon a small covered wagon along the roadway. We were intrigued and ventured over to see what was inside.

It turned out to be a small roadside farm stand that was sheltering a basket of freshly picked cucumbers, zucchini and a large vase of sunflowers. Never able to resist the bounty of the season, I put money in the cash box and filled my backpack with a handful of produce and the biggest, happiest looking sunflower of the bunch.

On the same property, there was a newly-constructed wooden building that appeared to be a future farm market. As we curiously biked past, we noticed an outdoor cooler filled with pints of fresh, lovely looking raspberries. I had to turn back.

Fresh raspberries are my weakness, especially on magical July evenings.

It started one summer, years ago, when my family was vacationing up north. During an after dinner drive along the countryside, my father stopped at a small roadside stand and bought two pints of raspberries.  The air was warm and humid and the gentle fragrance of the fruit captivated us as we drove back to our cabin.

Later that evening, my mother served up bowls of berries with a sprinkle of brown sugar and a drizzle of fresh cream. Mmmm…I can still remember the taste.

Up until that point, I don’t think I’d ever tasted a fresh raspberry…I mean, a really freshly picked raspberry. Not only were they delicious--there was something about discovering them along a roadway, out in the country, just steps from the fields where they grew. I can still picture the exact place where my father stopped that night and our delight in bringing the ruby berries home with us.

It was the beginning of a long love affair of roadside stands and raspberries.

Since that time, I seldom pass up a pint of raspberries in my travels. Last night, was no different. I bought a pint at the roadside cooler and headed home with my treasure in tow.

Out on the deck, later in the evening, I was back in time, at the cabin with my family, enjoying another bowl of raspberries on a magical July evening.

---Janice Benson, Executive Director, Michigan Agritourism

Did you know that many agritourism businesses started out as simple roadside stands?

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Created on Tuesday, July 19, 2016