Popular shopping venue enters 13th year With 23 regular vendors and dozens of daily vendors, Rockford’s weekly farm market literally has plenty of new items to see and purchase at every visit. Now all vendors accept Bridge cards and participate in Michigan’s Douple Up food bucks. This state initiative, designed to encourage healthy eating, allows shoppers to double their purchase of Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables. For every $20 spent on these eligible, locally produced and healthy items, they will receive an equal amount at no cost. Farm Market manager and Rockford’s Treasurer Kim McKay said the Double Up program is paid for through a variety of grants and endowments and adds a teriffic value to already great purchase options at the weekly market. Rockford’s market is unique and limited to locally-produced products. In addition to fresh produce of all types as they come into season, shoppers will find jerkey, honey, baked goods, cheeses, mushrooms and other delectable items. The market is open now Saturdays in the Towers parking lot (South Squires Street). Now open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. it will begin opening at 8 a.m. after June 1 until September. In October the hours will return to 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the market will run through October 31. McKay said the market was first started by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, and after the initial year was taken on as a city-run venue. She said it has been very popular from the start, both for vendors and for shoppers. McKay said a recent class on how to promote markets included ideas on attracting more vendors, but Rockford’s market is so popular McKay has to turn vendors down after space is completely booked.
Rockford Farm Market
Not willing to rest on its laurels the Rockford Farm Market – America’s Favorite – has added four new regular vendors to its already stellar cast. Filling in the blanks and taking the Market to the next level are relative newcomers as follows: Rockford resident Chef Robin Toldo needs no introduction, her cooking skills are well known to the Rockford community. Robin invites everyone to experience “hummus as never before” at Rockford’s Farm Market. In her booth, next to Great Harvest Bread, she vends 4 varieties of hummus that add a whole new gourmet twist for hummus lovers. Made completely from scratch and composed of 100% fresh natural ingredients, they contain no preservatives or coloring. All natural ingredients equal all natural fresh gourmet taste. Robin calls it HUMMALICIOUS! Don’t take her word for it, sample her offerings yourself at the Market on Saturday mornings. Local resident Vonnie Engelsma, owner of Maisy’s Pie Company, caters to everyone’s sweet tooth. Vonnie has a life-long love affair with baking – pies that is. She learned her craft at the knee of her beloved Grandma Maisy. At her market booth Vonnie offers hand made pies and other sweets just like Grandma used to make. Using only the best ingredients and baking in small batches ensures fresh high-quality products. Along with pies of all varieties and sizes, customers will find popovers, tarts, cookies, cupcakes, and more – just ask! Special orders can be placed for pick up the following week. Celiac disease or wheat allergy concerns? No problem! Rockford residents Kristy Naumann and Emma Darling, the Gluten Free Ladies, have the baked goods to fill your special needs. The ladies are storehouses of knowledge on the subject and are more than happy to answer any and all questions along with offering up really tasty and healthy gluten free products. They also offer “Gluten-free(dom)”, a spiral bound recipe book for gluten-free living. Partners Steve Bowyer and Ryan Raredon, of “The Local Epicurean”, used America’s Favorite Farm Market last summer to test market their handcrafted and organic herb infused pastas. In part because of their huge success in Rockford, the pair opened a storefront early this year on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids. Back this year at Rockford’s Farm Market, they are […]
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 […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest community service organization, with 1.3 million members. Today there are more than 45,000 Lions clubs in approximately 200 countries and geographic areas. Regardless of the language Lions speak, religion they practice or politics they support, they all share a common dedication to service. The extremely active and successful Rockford Lions club is the envy of every Lions club in the State of Michigan. Nowhere is the dedication to service more apparent than right here in the Rockford Lions club. Lions get things done and are always ready to help where they see a need. The services they provide oftentimes “fly under the radar.” In other words, they go quietly about their tasks with no greater reward than the self-satisfaction that comes from helping others. Locally, the Rockford Lions have been clearing Rockford’s oldest cemetery—Pioneer Cemetery, along with reclaiming the old Rum Creek Mill Pond skating rink in order to provide a new generation an old-fashioned Rockford wintertime tradition. Most recently, the Rockford Lions have been spearheading efforts to assist the Rockford Historical Society in a fundraising campaign to raise monies to relocate the antiquated and overcrowded Rockford Area Museum (RAM) to the larger and vacant 63rd District Court Building adjacent to Rockford City Hall. However, the Rockford Lions may be best known by acting for many years as Market Masters of the Rockford Farm Market—“America’s Favorite Farm Market.” The Lions volunteered to relieve the City of the responsibility of overseeing the Saturday morning operations of the Farm Market at no cost to the City. So it was with great pleasure that Michigan 73rd District State Representative Peter “Pete” MacGregor showed up at the January Lions Club meeting in order to surprise Lion Bob Winegar and the Rockford Lions with a framed Special Tribute from the Michigan Legislature honoring the Club for their unselfish service to the Rockford Farm Market. The Tribute, in part, reads: “Many people understand that without the Lions valuable service and volunteer hours the Rockford Farmers Market would not be what it is today.” Perhaps there is no State Legislator more interactively involved with his constituents than Pete MacGregor. Sponsoring this Tribute and having it read on the floor of […]
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 […]