by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL
Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are the symbol of Halloween and for the past month nowhere have pumpkins been more evident than at Rockford’s hugely popular Farm Market. The calendar has conspired this year to have Halloween fall on this season’s last Farm Market.
This coming Saturday is your last chance to say good-bye to your favorite vendors and stock up on the abundant bounty of a successful fall harvest. Along with carving pumpkins their display tables will be heavily laden with late season crops that store well and can be bought in volume. Vendors are more than happy to share their knowledge of storage techniques—just ask.
Many, but not all, of the produce items available will be: pie pumpkins, squash and potatoes of all varieties, late harvest greens including broccoli and multi-colored cauliflower, cider, and apples, apples, apples!
The Michigan apple harvest this year was one of the largest and most successful on record. Many varieties of apples can be stored for months in a cool dry environment such as a basement or a garage that stays above freezing. Again, vendors can advise which varieties store the best.
Farm Market vendors are in general agreement that this year’s Rockford Farm Market season was the most successful ever. Even on the few days of inclement weather, faithful market goers showed up in good numbers.
This year brought the addition of the Market’s newest regular vendor, Earthkeeper Farms. Practicing strictly sustainable and organic farming methods, Andrew and Rachelle Bostwick, found their farm’s offerings so popular that at times they had to double the size of their stall. Not only were they busy harvesting their crops; Rachelle harvested their first child, a bouncing baby boy (future farmhand) Liam Isaac Bostwick.
Toward the end of the season a vendor couple appeared sporting a huge copper kettle. Throughout the morning the kettle produced an instant Market success—Old Fashioned Kettle Corn. As they stirred the contents in the heated kettle, the aroma produced caused huge lines to form to sample and purchase the sweet treat.
The Rockford Lions Market Masters were also busy popping theater popcorn in this year’s newly placed Market Master Mini-barn. Bags of popcorn were available for just a dollar to support the good works of the Lions.
Head Market Master, Bob Winegar, was especially pleased with this year’s market season that, for the most part, went off without a hitch. He extended a special thank-you to fellow club members who filled in at times when he and wife Geri were unable to attend. Seeking clarification in one matter Winegar said, “I’m hoping the City will give clear and consistent direction next year as to whether dogs will or will not be allowed at Rockford Farm Market. If a ban on dogs is a certainty I would like also to see clearly visible adequate signage at entrances to the venue.” Beyond that, Winegar said, “The continually growing Market gets stronger every year. We have good locally grown pure Michigan produce and artisan bakery goods. People do not question price when it comes to their health and the top quality of the goods offered.”
So this Saturday begin Halloween with a final visit to the ’09 Rockford Farm Market. Wear a costume, if you will, maybe you can “Trick or Treat” a vendor or two. We’ll be there making our last rounds which will include our favorite vegetable—a few loaves of extreme cinnamon swirl pumpkin bread. Yum!