Rockford Farmers Market

Rockford’s lead evaporates in farm market contest

August 11, 2011 // 0 Comments

Let’s win one for Rockford, two for Michigan by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL The America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest voting website has revealed that the Rockford Farm Market is not alone in Michigan in trying to win a title as America’s Favorite Farmers Market. There will be four winners named, one for each of four market size categories: boutique (15 or less vendors), small (16-30), medium (31-55), and large (56+ vendors). Currently we lead the entire nation in all market size categories. Winning overall would be like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. With three weeks remaining in the contest, we find this is no easy task. Every time Rockford (pop. 5,700) builds up a comfortable lead in the small market size category, our chief competitor, Venice, Fla. (pop. 22,000), comes charging right back. In a 36-hour period over the weekend, Venice voters cast a whopping 400 new votes that cut deeply into our once comfortable lead. Manistique, Mich. (pop. 3,050), in the boutique size category, finds itself in the same position in an even more hotly contested race. They find themselves with a weekly flip-flopping lead against another Florida market in Punta Gorda (pop. 17,100). What we have here, in essence, are two Davids versus two Goliaths. Somewhat even more ironic is that, at this time in the growing season of Florida, much of their farm market produce is shipped down from the north. So, in an effort to assist one another in this contest the Manistique Farmers Market, with the strong support of the Manistique newspaper, The Pioneer Tribune, have joined forces with The Rockford Squire newspaper in promoting our respective markets in the remaining weeks of the contest. The Cedar Springs Post is also joining in and we welcome their support. “This would be a great way to bring some positive national attention, for a change, to Michigan. And to think we are only the ‘little guys,’” said Kerry Ott, market master of the Manistique Farmers Market. “We will promote this to our supporters as: Let’s win one for Manistique and two for Michigan.” This is becoming, in part, a contest between Michigan and the pretenders in Florida. After all, Michigan, the second most agriculturally diverse state […]

Rockford enters America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest for 2011

June 2, 2011 // 0 Comments

Granddaddy of area farm markets to open Saturday, June 4 by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Rockford City Treasurer Kim “Farmer” McKay wears many hats, one of which is that of Rockford’s Farm Market Administrator. McKay is proud to announce that the wildly popular Rockford-sponsored Farm Market returns for its 11th season this Saturday, June 4. McKay and Rockford City Manager Michael Young have decided to let the world know how we’ve all come to love our fair city’s farm market. In doing so, McKay has entered the Rockford Farm Market in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest, a project of the American Farmland Trust. The contest is designed to raise national awareness about the importance of supporting fresh food from local farms and farmers. At the end of the contest, which will run from 12 p.m., June 1 until midnight on August 31, 2011, one boutique, one small, one medium and one large farmers market will win the title of “America’s Favorite Farmers Market” for 2011. Rockford, with 42 regular vendors and four daily vendors, has been placed in the medium market category. “The Rockford Farm Market is an asset to our community and deserves our support. Everyone is invited to help the iconic Rockford Farm Market gain the recognition it deserves and ensure it continues to thrive,” said McKay. “Fans of the market are encouraged to cast their vote in support of Rockford’s jewel of a farm market.” The strictly popular vote will be conducted online at Click on “vote” and follow the instructions. Inquires may also be made at the Market Masters booth (Market Master Bob Winegar and Lions volunteers) for additional information and promotional materials. What a feather in Rockford’s cap it would be to win this prestigious contest. Spread the word—tell your friends and relatives to also cast their votes for the social phenomenon, the Rockford Farm Market. Michigan ranks second only to California in crop diversity. When you visit the Rockford Farm Market you will find a variety of only Michigan-grown, nutrient-rich, healthy produce. Indeed, McKay says, “The heart of Rockford’s Farm Market is the abundance of Michigan-grown produce.” Because of Michigan’s climate, the varieties of produce you will find at the market will vary on a weekly basis […]

Letters to the Editor—April 22, 2010

April 22, 2010 // 0 Comments

Reader disagrees with Farmer’s Market dog decision Dear Mr. Young, I am writing this letter to express my strong disappointment in the City Council’s irresponsibility by deciding to allow dogs to be present at the weekly Farmer’s Market. In making their decision, City Council has potentially sacrificed the safety of many citizens, as well as their enjoyment and patronage of the market, for the short-term convenience of others. I admire Mayor Rogers for stating, “I wouldn’t want to take the chance of a child being bitten,” and supporting that with her vote. Council members who voted against a dog ban are clearly saying that they DON’T mind taking the chance because they surely CAN’T deny that the CHANCE of dog bites or other problems exists. My reason for opposing the presence of dogs at the market is not because I oppose dog ownership. I think that anyone who owns and loves a dog has every right to enjoy their pet, but I do not believe that right extends to crowded areas such as the farm market where the potential for problems definitely exists. I am also sensitive to the issue because I have knee and back problems that sometimes make balance difficult. I have witnessed dogs at the market (on leashes) jump up at passersby, causing them to move out of the way quickly. Council seems to feel that those situations don’t matter because they weren’t reported as “incidents,” even though if that were to happen to me or anyone else who may be unable to react quickly enough, it could easily result in a fall and injury (possibly permanent). I also take issue with the fact that City Council interpreted six responses by market vendors as sufficient reason to allow dogs. In fact, the three favorable responses reflect the views of ONLY 14 percent of the vendors. That is hardly a mandate that should cause a council member to disregard public safety. Frankly, I am surprised that vendors didn’t speak out more strongly in favor of banning dogs. When we go to the market, it is in my car, which often has the trunk and back seat filled with produce and flats of vegetables when we leave. It makes no sense to risk having […]

Couple bet their farm on ‘green’ community

July 9, 2009 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF and NANCY HILL Last summer The Rockford Squire published a series of articles highlighting a cross-section of vendors at the Rockford Farm Market. There were no plans to continue the series this year, but a young couple has recently been awarded a coveted weekly slot at the farm market and theirs is a compelling story. Rachelle and Andrew Bostwick, owners of Earthkeeper Farm, no longer have to rise at 3:00 a.m. Saturday mornings to secure one of four to five stalls set aside for those not holding season-long reservations. Regular status makes life much easier as regulars need only to arrive no later than 7:30 a.m. to set up their stalls. The Bostwicks had the good fortune of replacing a vendor of dog treats who opted not to return this year. (Fear not, dog bones are still available at the Great Harvest Bread Co. stall.) Prior to purchasing their 20-acre farm, the Bostwicks had spent many a growing season working as apprentice farmers in places such as New York and as far away as Mexico and Spain. They did so working under an umbrella organization known as the Cooperative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT). In 2007, it was time to put their training and education into practice on their own newly purchased farm. Most young couples, when purchasing property, look for such things as the square footage of the home, number of bedrooms and baths, and a litany of amenities. Not so, this couple. Rachelle said, “Our number one criteria was the quality and fertility of the soil. So after looking at somewhere between 20 and 30 properties, we found what we were looking for on Fruit Ridge Avenue in Kent City, and embarked on a dream of becoming sustainable organic farmers.” Four of the 12 tillable acres of Earthkeeper Farm are currently in production. The remaining acreage consists of pastures and woodlots. During the growing season, they employ students and, as Rachelle laughingly says, “conscripted in-laws.” The Bostwicks strictly adhere to the principles of sustainable agriculture with a goal of, hopefully, starting the process of being certified as an organic farm in 2010. “Sustainable agriculture refers to the ability of a farm to produce food indefinitely, without causing severe or irreversible […]

Rockford Farm Market is pure Michigan

June 4, 2009 // 0 Comments

  by Cliff and Nancy Hill   According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture – if every Michigan family would buy just $10 a week of local Michigan fruits and vegetables, it would keep $37 million new dollars each week working for you right here at home. For the past eight years Rockford has been way ahead of the curve by its overwhelming acceptance of the Rockford City sponsored Farm Market.  About to enter its 9th season, the Rockford Farm Market returns this Saturday, June 6, and continues every Saturday thereafter until October 31, 2009.    From the Market’s inception in 2001, Rockford City Community Development Director Jody Greco has assembled an eclectic mix of vendors who compliment one another and the Market during its five-month run.  The Market is anchored by a core of vendors who fell in love with the Rockford Market that first year.  Returning every year thereafter, each vendor has built a strong local following that can’t wait for their favorites to return.  All of last year’s vendors are back this year along with George Miller of the popular “Miller’s Cave,” a vendor of marinated mushrooms (secret recipe), who was missed last season.  Not wanting to spoil a good thing by creating an unmanageable larger market, Greco tells us that the hard part of her job every year is turning away new applicants.  Greco has been graciously referring those applicants to last year’s newly formed Plainfield Market and an about to be formed farm market in Walker.  Personally, we are looking forward to the return of Great Harvest Bread Company and their deliciously decadent cinnamon bread and the first of the season homegrown tomatoes that were planted in January, then grown and ripened in Deimer’s Winter Gardens greenhouses.  We also won’t forget fresh Michigan hand-snapped asparagus from TerAvest Farm and, of course, a bouquet of fresh cut flowers from Casey Lemieux at The Flower Garden stall.  The Market is more than just a cornucopia of locally grown fruits and vegetables, organic produce, homemade pastries and breads, cheese, eggs, fresh jerky, honey, floral planter arrangements and nursery and greenhouse stock.  In Rockford the Market is a social phenomenon and has been since day one.  That is what Jody Greco must have had in mind […]