Hundreds of winter-weary Midwesterners crowded farm stalls on the first Saturday in May, grabbing at summer’s appetizers. Asparagus and spinach, for starters. The suburban West Allis market’s season opener, like about 100 before it, promised fresh vegetables after months of deprivation. The market delivered local, seasonal flowers. It even suggested the possibility of juicy tomatoes, at a later and hotter date.

All without a drop of irrigation. “Water is not an issue,” West Bend, Wis., farmer David Witte said as he handed over bundle after bundle of asparagus at $3.50 apiece. What a concept.

As the Southwest bakes under years of drought and strains to stretch its water supply into the future, the Upper Midwest is starting to see its luck. The same waterways that transported America to industrial glory in the past century are now a different kind of hot commodity for the next one.

View the full story by the Detroit Free Press