America’s Favorite Farmers Market

Michigan Legislature honors Rockford Farm Market

November 17, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Last Thursday your reporters traveled to the state capital in Lansing to attend a session of the State Legislature to hear a reading of a proclamation and receive a framed tribute honoring the Rockford Farm Market’s victory in this past summer’s nationwide America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest. We had been invited by the proclamation’s author, 73rd District State Representative, Pete MacGregor. The reading of the proclamation on the Michigan House of Representatives floor was precluded by a visit to Rep. MacGregor’s office on the tenth floor of the State Office Bldg. across the street from and overlooking the State Capitol. What an awesome vista!! Following the office visit we were escorted to Rep. MacGregor’s desk, on the floor of the House of Representatives, at the beginning of the afternoon session in order to commemorate this occasion. Not only were we to receive this tribute, we were also privileged to sit alongside MacGregor and his House colleagues as they conducted the State’s business of the day. It was a high honor indeed as we were told, other than House members, only family members were allowed to be present on the floor. For Squire readers, as members of the greater Rockford community and beyond, here as follows is the verbiage of the State of Michigan Special Tribute that was presented to the Rockford Farm Market, to the Rockford Lions, and to your humble servants as well: State of Michigan Special Tribute To the Rockford Farmers Market LET IT BE KNOWN, That it is with deep appreciation for all of the hard work, commitment, and planning this occasion represents that we commemorate the awarding of the America’s Favorite Farmers Market, Small Market category to the Rockford Farmers Market of Rockford, MI. As members of the community and the people behind this enterprise gather to celebrate this event and express their confidence, we are proud to add our voice to commend everyone who has worked to make this day possible. The annual America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest is held by the American Farmland Trust to raise national awareness about the importance of buying fresh food from local farms and saving the farmland where it’s grown. Rockford netted 6,083 votes, more overall votes than those […]

America’s Favorite Farmers Market 2011 closes Saturday

October 27, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL This Saturday will mark the close of the Rockford Farm Market season and what a season it was! In spite of a scant few naysayers, 6,083 market-goers weren’t wrong when they named the Rockford Farm Market as America’s Favorite Farmers Market. Sponsored by the American Farmland Trust, the June through August contest highlighted what the Rockford Community already knew – our hometown Farm Market is second to none! The buzz of publicity generated by the contest, on TV and in the press, brought countless new visitors to Saturday morning markets resulting in, according to market vendors, a runaway successful season. Possibly little understood is the fact that the Farmer’s Market is an economic engine that directly benefits Rockford’s downtown business community. This is underscored by a study undertaken by the Midtown Neighborhood Association, operators of the nearly 100-year-old nonprofit Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids. The Fulton St. Market, at its busiest, attracts upwards of 10,000 customers per week who spend an estimated $200,000 weekly at nearby businesses. The East Fulton Business District and all Eastown businesses, in general, benefit by the spillover effect of market-goers seeking other shopping and dining choices after filling their market baskets. Yes, the Fulton Street Farmers Market operates four days a week and the Rockford Market only operates on Saturday mornings. Nevertheless, Rockford’s mighty small-venue market brings upwards of 3,000 visitors to town on Saturday mornings, June through October of every year. From our contest-polling table at the Rockford Farm Market this summer, we learned first-hand that market-goers were eager to seek out everything that Rockford has to offer. If only more of Rockford’s business community could wrap their minds around the potential to exploit and embrace, to their financial advantage, the huge influx of market patrons. Other information of note harvested at our polling table was two often repeated anxious comments. The first being, “Where’s the closest washroom?” Followed by, “Why aren’t there at least Port-O-Jons on site?” We heard this as a complaint from vendors and a plaintive cry of help from market-goers. At the very least, visible signage could be placed directing those in need to the restroom facilities adjacent to the Welcome Center and those facilities available to the […]

6, 083 voters got it absolutely right

September 8, 2011 // 0 Comments

Rockford is America’s Favorite Farmers Market—period by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Every contest or election is won through the support of voters and organizations. Rockford’s winning entry in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest was no exception. This improbable journey began in May of this year when Rockford City Manager Michael Young gave the go ahead to Kim McKay, City Treasurer and Farm Market Administrator, to enter the annual farm market challenge sponsored by the American Farmland Trust. This was Rockford’s first attempt to enter the City-sponsored market in this prestigious nationwide contest. Both City Administrators gave their full and enthusiastic support during the 13-week summer contest. Entry in the contest placed an added burden on Market Master Bob Winegar and the Rockford Lions. For many years, the Rockford Lions have acted as volunteer Market Masters overseeing the Saturday morning operations of the Rockford Farm Market. This is an outreach service project of the Rockford Lions and is provided to the community at no cost. Without the Lions valuable service the Rockford Farm Market would not be what it is today. However, the real unsung heroes of this farm market contest are the wonderful farm market family vendors that have comprised the heart and soul of the market since its inception some 10 years ago. We all have our favorite vendors and we all owe them a debt of gratitude and a shout of appreciation for the role they played in winning this contest. Without their presence every Saturday morning, there would be no market. First off, let us thank each and every one of the 6,083 people who cast their vote for Rockford’s Farm Market during this “winning season”. Their votes, which resulted in a resounding win in the contest, brought much-deserved recognition and national attention not only to Rockford’s great Farm Market and our fair city but also to the State of Michigan and Michigan agriculture. With two small-town Michigan farm markets – Rockford winning its small market category and Manistique in the U.P placing 2nd in the nation in its boutique market category – the bounty of Michigan agribusiness was brought to light. Players and Supporters Space will not allow us to list all of the players and supporters that made Rockford’s […]