Local vendors begin season at Plainfield farm market

Market open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 to 7 p.m.

COLORFUL—Food provided by local farmers has the advantage of reaching the customer quickly, with less time to deteriorate. Pictured is a beautiful display of fresh produce from Zandstra’s Farm.

Fans of Rockford’s fabulous farm market can visit more local vendors mid-week now that Plainfield Township Farmer’s Market is up and running. The market is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m. and offers plenty of opportunity for fresh, locally grown goods and produce, and more.

The trend for locally grown produce has many towns opening farm markets and is not only an affordable way to purchase the freshest fruits, vegetables, jams, jellies and jerkies, but also a chance to learn about the people who are providing the products. A visit on Thursday, June 16 found the market busy and merchants having a good time talking with shoppers.

Mike Kibler was on hand offering samples of jerky made from his wife’s family business, 20th Century Market. The business, in the third generation of owners, has been in the same location at 610 Bridge Street in downtown Grand Rapids since 1906. A picture shows the shop in the days of horse-drawn buggies and cable cars. Kibler said his wife makes the jerky and his father-in-law makes “everything else.” He said the market is one of few that make their products in-house, and specialties include Polish kielbasa, German wieners, and Kiscka, a product originally made with blood, not with synthetic blood. He said it is very difficult to find anywhere else.

Among local merchants Rockford shoppers may already know was Christina Purvis of Old World Olive Press, who is normally found in her shop at 65 E. Bridge Street in downtown Rockford. Purvis said business was going well at the market, although the day was a little chilly. Purvis partners with other local businesses, such as Reds on the River, to provide classes on the many uses of the olive oils, vinegars and spices available at her shop. The versatile ingredients can be combined in amazing and unexpected ways, such as vinegar and ice cream for a truly unique and delicious dessert.

LONG TRADITION—20th Century Market’s Mike Kibler (right) is offering samples and selling the shop’s homemade beef and chicken jerky. His family-owned business is in the third generation and has been located at 610 Bridge Street in Grand Rapids since 1906. A picture shows the location, complete with an ad for the butcher shop on the building (right hand side of image). Family friend John Ropolewski (left) last year told the business owners to attend the market and they took him up on his offer.

Merill Post from Post Farms was offering lovely and aromatic peonies and delicious jams. Red raspberry, blueberry and honey were among the flavors offered. Post said the family farm originally numbered in the hundreds of acres and was first settled after sale of the land for $1.25 an acre in 1840. Now East Rockford Middle School sits on part of the family farmland and a development on Myers Lake Road takes up another 110-acre parcel. Post Farms offers you-pick blueberries, raspberries and flowers.

“Eighty percent of our sales take place at the farm,” Post noted, although he has been a regular at the Plainfield farm market since it opened. He said his farm was purchased by his great-great-grandfather, who came to the area in 1850. He also pointed out that Post Road was named for his ancestors. He came from the Weller side of the family tree—a family that came to the area in 1848.

Plainfield Township Farmer’s Market allows crafts and other items in addition to food, so is a little different than Rockford’s. Both markets have a great diversity of products. At Plainfield’s market, shoppers can find gluten-free items, including pecan and rhubarb pie, Della’s pulled pork BBQ, hotdogs and brats, hanging baskets, chemical-free produce and meats, artisan-style cheese, organic bread and you can also have a feather weaved into your hair.

DELICIOUS SAMPLES—Christina Purvis and Karina Thornquist of Rockford’s Old World Olive Press have a fun day meeting visitors and offering samples of the store’s variety of vinegars and olive oils. Purvis said she appreciates that the market is held after hours so people can visit after work. Thornquist said she liked that the market is open for several hours to fit into busy schedules of shoppers. Purvis gives tips to customers on the many uses for the oils and vinegar.

 

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