by Cliff and Nancy Hill
According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture – if every Michigan family would buy just $10 a week of local Michigan fruits and vegetables, it would keep $37 million new dollars each week working for you right here at home.
For the past eight years Rockford has been way ahead of the curve by its overwhelming acceptance of the Rockford City sponsored Farm Market.
About to enter its 9th season, the Rockford Farm Market returns this Saturday, June 6, and continues
every Saturday thereafter until October 31, 2009.
From the Market’s inception in 2001, Rockford City Community Development Director Jody Greco has assembled an eclectic mix of vendors who compliment one another and the Market during its five-month run. The Market is anchored by a core of vendors who fell in love with the Rockford Market that first year. Returning every year thereafter, each vendor has built a strong local following that can’t wait for their favorites to return.
All of last year’s vendors are back this year along with George Miller of the popular “Miller’s Cave,” a vendor of marinated mushrooms (secret recipe), who was missed last season. Not wanting to spoil a good thing by creating an unmanageable larger market, Greco tells us that the hard part of her job every year is turning away new applicants. Greco has been graciously referring those applicants to last year’s newly formed Plainfield Market and an about to be formed farm market in Walker.
Personally, we are looking forward to the return of Great Harvest Bread Company and their deliciously decadent cinnamon bread and the first of the season homegrown tomatoes that were planted in January, then grown and ripened in Deimer’s Winter Gardens greenhouses. We also won’t forget fresh Michigan hand-snapped asparagus from TerAvest Farm and, of course, a bouquet of fresh cut flowers from Casey Lemieux at The Flower Garden stall.
The Market is more than just a cornucopia of locally grown fruits and vegetables, organic produce, homemade pastries and breads, cheese, eggs, fresh jerky, honey, floral planter arrangements and nursery and greenhouse stock. In Rockford the Market is a social phenomenon and has been since day one. That is what Jody Greco must have had in mind when she told us that, “We (the City) had no altruistic reason behind doing the Farm Market – we do it for the townspeople and the social and goodwill aspects of the event.”
Rockford is known for its community pride and warmth and a trip to the Saturday Market in downtown Rockford reinforces those attributes. Weekly, with a cup of coffee in hand from their favorite local coffeehouse, Market lovers from near and far head to the South Squires Street parking lot venue. There, after a West Michigan winter that never seems to end, they enjoy one another’s company and renew old acquaintances while partaking of and in the bounty the Market has to offer.
As in past years, the Rockford Lions have volunteered to oversee and act as “Market Masters.” They will operate out of a newly placed 10’x10′ mini-barn in the center of the Market where, for the first time, they will be vending freshly popped popcorn (from a real popcorn machine) to augment the funding of Lion service projects.
In previous years the Market was moved from the South Squires Street parking lot to the City Hall parking lot to make way for the annual carnival that each year is part of the Start of Summer Celebration. Instead, this year, the Market will relocate to the highly visible parking lot on Main Street where the former Northland Buick/ Pontiac/GMC dealership stood. Mark your calendar; this move will take place only on Saturday, June 13.
Greco also reminds us that each week one stall is made available to charitable non-profit groups. For further information contact Jody Greco at City Hall (866-1537).
If you have never attended the Rockford Farm Market you have no idea what you are missing. It is located in the South Squires Street parking lot (just south of The Peppermill Grill and The Reading Railroad between the White Pine Trail and the Chase Bank on Main Street) and is open for business every Saturday, rain or shine, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Just follow the crowd.