So far, so good in nationwide Farmers Markets Contest by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Kim McKay, Rockford City Treasurer who also serves as Rockford’s Farm Market Administrator, could not contain her glee when she informed the Squire, “I can’t believe it! The Rockford Farm Market currently leads all other markets in the state of Michigan and is in third place in the entire nation in our small market category of the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets Contest.” McKay had just gotten off the phone with the good news as conveyed to her by Gretchen Hoffman of the American Farmland Trust, sponsor of the annual nationwide contest. “This call has really stoked my competitive nature,” said McKay. “We can’t rest on our laurels. There’s still nine weeks left before the August 31 contest deadline. We need to reach out to each and everyone to keep the ball rolling in order to turn out the voters.” McKay was preaching to the choir, as we, in representing The Rockford Squire, have been staunch advocates of the iconic Rockford Farm Market since the day it opened some 10 years ago. The Rockford Farm Market is the essence of “Pure Michigan.” All goods sold at the Saturday morning markets are either Michigan grown or Michigan produced, all locally from West Michigan. It is a destination market with people traveling from all over, not just locally, to purchase freshly picked and healthy farm produce produced by local farmers. People appreciate that the Rockford Farm Market does not have a carnie or flea market atmosphere by not allowing food vendor trucks or craft stalls. They love it just the way it is and for what it is, “…a friendly Saturday morning tradition where not just residents but people from afar gather to participate in what has become a social phenomenon along with the opportunity to purchase the very best of what Michigan farmers and producers have to offer,” said McKay. What’s not to like? The beautiful downtown Rockford Farm Market venue sits astride the White Pine Trail and the Rogue River in a garden-like setting unlike some other market venues that are plunked in the middle of a huge barren parking lot or a trampled farm field. ‘Nuf said. Rockford is all about […]
Rockford Farm Market
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Every year the July edition of On-the-Town, the arts and entertainment magazine of West Michigan, published monthly by Advance BCI Inc., announces their Townie Awards. Each year the magazine’s readers are asked to think local and vote for their favorites in multiple categories. Readers are asked where they like to eat, where they like to shop, and who they think is best at what they do. You name it, this year the Townie Awards were comprised of 48 categories such as Best Burger, Best Museum, Best Clothing Store and many, many more. Simply put, it’s a popular vote. Whoever gets the most votes wins. Two awards are presented in each category, one gold and one silver. In the Best Farmers Market category, the magazine’s readers cast enough votes for Rockford’s farmers market to garner the silver Townie Award. Grand Rapids’ Fulton Street Farmers Market took the gold. This is high praise indeed for the Rockford Farm Market, especially so when you consider Rockford’s trail and riverside jewel of a farm market was competing against the likes of Grand Rapids’ venerable and iconic Fulton Street Farmers Market, the oldest and largest farm market in West Michigan. So with this in mind, allow us to “preach to the choir” by reminding Squire readers that the Rockford Farm Market is also entered in a much more prestigious contest, that being the 2011 America’s Favorite Farm Market contest sponsored by the American Farmland Trust. Four farm markets, based upon market size (boutique, small, medium, and large), will be able to boast themselves as America’s Favorite Farm Markets. Rockford is entered in the medium-size market category. Let’s go, Squire readers. You’re all tech savvy and very intelligent people. After all, you read the Squire, don’t you? Let’s show our pride in all things Rockford and cast our votes for our hometown market for this signal award. Simply go to www.farmland.org/vote to cast your vote. (No time, or need a little help? Ask your computer-hip kid. They’ll know how to do it.) Or simply stop at the Lions Club’s Market Master booth while you are shopping the Rockford Farm Market on Saturdays between now and August 31 to register your name and e-mail address, and a […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Remember, if you love our hometown’s farm market as much as we do, please cast your vote for Rockford in the America’s Favorite Farm Market contest sponsored by America’s Farmland Trust. Thus far, we only have 59 votes cast for Rockford and we certainly can do much better than this. This is Rockford, after all, the “City of Excellence.” Cast your vote online by going to www.farmland.org/vote.
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL It was a postcard perfect day for the opening day of the Rockford Farm Market last Saturday. Most every stall in the market was filled by local Michigan vendors. Michigan-grown produce is considerably less abundant at this time because the growing season was delayed due to unseasonably cool and rainy weather this spring—one exception being asparagus. However, that did not deter many of the larger vendors from bringing freshly grown and harvested farm produce from their greenhouses. Potted flowers and vegetable seedlings, along with potted patio tomato plants, and asparagus, asparagus, asparagus ruled the day. Everyone knows that the Michigan variety of freshly hand-snapped asparagus is the very best in the world, and shoppers were taking advantage of the market’s abundance. Even a local merchant decided there is no sense in arguing with the success of the Rockford Farm Market. An astute Rockford businessman, Pete Kruer, brought his beautiful Kunst Gardens potted vegetables and floral arrangements to market for the first time ever. “I didn’t realize how much fun this would be. I’ll be back!” said Kruer. There are 17 Saturdays remaining in the Rockford Farm Market season so, if you haven’t already done so, please remember to cast your vote for Rockford’s Farmers Market in the America’s Favorite Farm Market contest. It’s as simple as going to www.farmland.org/vote and following the prompts. You can vote once for each e-mail address you and your family members have. Heck, don’t stop there. Support Rockford and this great market and network the contest to friends and co-workers. As of the writing of this article, Rockford’s market has only 18 votes. This is Rockford, we can do better than that! Remember, because of the Start of Summer festivities this coming weekend, Farm Market will be held on Main Street in the parking lot across from Chase Bank on the old Northland Pontiac GMC dealership property.
by Cliff and Nancy Hill Michigan is the second most diverse agriculture state in the nation, and nowhere is that diversity and abundance more apparent than every Saturday morning at downtown Rockford’s Farm Market. “People really appreciate knowing where their food is coming from,” said Rockford City Manager Michael Young. “Rockford was really ahead of the curve when we brought a farm market downtown in 2000. People will flock downtown knowing there is something to flock to.” Ahead of the curve would be an understatement at best. Nowadays cities, villages, townships, DDAs, and chambers of commerce are leaping on board by sponsoring farm markets in their respective communities across the nation. They see no threat to their local business districts and fully realize that farm markets enhance quality of life for their citizens and bring new visitors to town who oftentimes return to frequent newly discovered shops and restaurants. This Saturday marks the last Farm Market day of Rockford’s 2010 season, where shoppers can enjoy fresh locally grown produce and partake in the wonderfully unique fall traditions Michigan has to offer. Think pumpkins, apples, cider, root vegetables, mums, all varieties of squash along with locally produced artisan breads, honey, cheese and jerky. Everything about being at the Rockford Farm Market is about community: fresh locally grown food, people talking, and having fun. Indeed, the Rockford Farm Market has become a social phenomenon. People love the spirit of their hometown market. Most of the vendors that made up the nucleus of the original Rockford Farm Market became regulars and are still with us today. Most practice sustainable farming methods and some are strictly organic. They epitomize the phrase “Know your farmer, know your food.” They have come to know us (Rockford customers) and we them, on a first name basis. We all have our favorite vendors for different varieties of produce, and it’s a joy to watch shoppers move from stall to stall filling their market baskets. The Rockford Farm Market is a “pure” farm market, meaning that only Michigan-grown produce and locally produced foodstuffs are allowed. “From the start the City did not allow craft vendors, because they might be a threat to local businesses, and we did not want a flea market atmosphere,” said […]