by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL On the wings of victory from winning the 2011 America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest, the Rockford Farm Market (RFM) proudly sails into its second decade. Since its opening day, the first Saturday of June in 2002, RFM has developed a cult-like word-of-mouth following in the greater Rockford community. In many ways, it was Rockford’s best-kept secret. All that changed with the Market’s entrance last year into the prestigious farmers markets contest sponsored by the American Farmland Trust (AFT). Not only did RFM win its small market category (16-30 vendors), it also received more votes than ANY other single farm market in any category (boutique, small, medium, and large). In doing so, RFM truly could lay claim to the title “America’s Favorite Farmers Market/2011”. Recently the AFT revealed that nearly 1,700 participating farmers markets were entered into last year’s contest. A total of 90,000 votes were cast online. All the more amazing was the fact that the small city Rockford Farm Market received 6,083 votes, or in other words an incredible 6.8 percent of the total votes cast! RFM is a “Pure Michigan” farm market that celebrates and totally reflects the “farm-to-table” movement. It is all about local West Michigan farm produce. A visit to America’s Favorite Farmers Market truly rewards one with a taste of Michigan. Local regional foods simply taste better. Why? Because they are fresher, not having traveled hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to our tables. That they are more healthful simply goes without saying. Because of the resulting media coverage in winning last year’s farm market contest, RFM found itself becoming a destination farm market for foodies and farm market affeciationados from near and far. Just as there are wine trails, there are also farm market trails and RFM now finds itself as a “must” market to visit. What boggles the mind is the fact that RFM operates without cost to its sponsor, the City of Rockford. It has no budget, no paid staff, and does not advertise in the media. Rockford City Treasurer Kim McKay somehow finds the time to organize and administer the June – October market during her already hectic work schedule. Saturday morning Market Master duties are performed by volunteers from the […]
City of Rockford
‘We did run screaming at first, but we came back’ by BETH ALTENA When Bill Jr. and Sandy Jobse wanted to relocate closer to their work places, they knew they wanted to be in downtown Rockford. “We always came down here during the festivals and festivities. It’s like a perfect little bubble town, always decorated and beautiful,” Sandy said. They were looking for a home, and had previously owned two other houses that had needed a little work. This time it was going to be different. When asked why they didn’t run screaming when they first walked through the house at 20 Fremont, Sandy said they did. “We did run screaming. But then we came back.” The home had been that of an elderly man who had apparently become unable to keep the house up. On top of neglect and age, the home had been sitting empty for two years on the market. The other people who had made offers had stated that they planned to tear the building down and build new. There were holes in the walls inside and out, and stains in the ancient carpet. The garage was unusable because beams had been propped in to keep the roof from coming down. The ceiling stucco was peeling down in big strips. There was a cistern for water in the basement, an ancient water-holding structure from before indoor plumbing. The upstairs was completely closed off and apparently hadn’t been used in years. On the porch the rails were rotted out and the floor was caving in. There was no landscaping, just dirt and rocks. They first saw the home after they’d come to town for dinner. After the initial walk-through, they wanted nothing to do with the house. But for both of them, something about the house connected. “I like old things and appreciate the history of old houses,” Bill stated. He said they returned to the home and looked it over with a new attitude. The son of the owner of White Creek Lumber, who inherited his dad’s interest in woodworking and craftsmanship, Bill is more able than many to do the repairs the home needed. Sandy noted both of their previous two homes had needed some repairs. “They were nothing like […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Mission accomplished! The third and final phase of the Rogue River Nature Trail is now complete. Bultsma Construction has made good on a promised May 10 completion date and the award-winning trail is now open for foot traffic. The entire Rogue River Nature Trail was constructed primarily as a boardwalk with picturesque Rogue River vistas along with observation and fishing platforms. From its southern origin at James St. and Longview Dr. on the City’s southwest side, the trail extends northward to its terminus at a sidewalk connector to Chelsea Ct. in the Riverchase Neighborhood. Not quite a mile in total length and handicap accessible, the Rogue River Nature Trail begs to be discovered if you haven’t already done so.
Reader praises City’s innovative restructuring Dear Editor, I read the headline article from April 26 titled, “Rockford models new money-saving safety structure” and wanted to thank and commend not only the City Manager and staff but all employees involved in cross-training to be firefighters. As we continue to see the state of Michigan reduce their financial contributions to local municipalities, those same municipalities are forced to “do more with less.” Citizens will expect the same high level of service no matter what the funding level and the City of Rockford has shown it is quite capable of handling this difficult task. It seems that politicians love to place a great deal of economic blame on “overpaid and underworked” city employees in the past years. I highly doubt any politician making that claim has any idea the added tasks given to many public employees, especially those of Rockford. Private and public sector employees alike have been faced with declining wages and higher workloads, but I believe the employees of the City of Rockford have gone above and beyond anyone’s expectations. It’s one thing to take a pay cut or work longer hours but quite another to add a task of firefighting to your added responsibilities. I’m sure that many city employees never imagined they would add they may be called upon to put out fires or rescue people on medical calls. Think about it: the same city employee that repairs the water mains, mows city parks and maintains our wonderful city may also be the same person responding to someone having a heart attack or sent to put out a fire. Talk about multitasking. Paul Smith Rockford resident
by BETH ALTENA The Depression was marked by the “alphabet soup” of government-funded employment to keep people working. The CWA was just one—also keeping men at work was the Civilian Conservation Corp, the Works Project Administration (which was jokingly referred to as “Water, Piss and Air.” The projects were usually infrastructure ones to the benefit of the public. In Rockford, the projects were mostly city streets and water from 1935 to 1936 and the Michigan State Police Post in 1935 and 1936. A 200,000-gallon water storage tank was among the projects, a structure still in existence (although not currently used) up by the water tower on the hill behind North Rockford Middle School. The East Maple, Lincoln and Dayton streets were paved, and evacuated dirt filled in the swamp that used to exist where the Community Cabin is now located. DeMaagd noted that architecture of the State Police Post may have been influenced by the style of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “New School of the Middle West” as evidenced by structural earmarks of the style: tapestry brick, porch, patio base, stone around the door and the belt course above the floor level of the second floor. A glance at Rockford’s Michigan State Police Post clearly shows the influence of the famous architect. The style is here today for those who take a look and see what is here today. DeMaagd said the buildings erected during those times were not solely funded by the government works projects, which largely provided labor. Material for the Community Cabin was in part financed by Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, who held fundraisers. “Raising money is not a new idea,” said DeMaagd. “They raised money for the Community Cabin in the middle of the Depression.” Two other Depression-era constructions were the Rockford Post Office, authorized by a special act of Congress, and the Rockford Library, a gift of GA Krause. In 1940, the mural inside the Post Office, which visitors to the building can still admire, was installed by Pierre Bourdelle, a New York artist. Rockford probably was selected to have a post office because at that time Wolverine was a major parcel post user. Artists vied for the honor of being chosen to have their work installed in the public […]