Tag Archives: farmers’ market

Downtown Market: Access for All

Downtown Market, Grand Rapids, MI

I’d been looking forward to checking out the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids ever since it opened earlier this summer. With 25,000 square feet of market space, it’s the first LEED-certified market in the country. That’s a big deal! And, it’s designed to be a year-round hub of activity, offering a restaurant, a brewery, a farmer’s market, retail shops, a commercial kitchen, a rooftop greenhouse, and the country’s first hands-on kitchen for kids.

For now, the market is only offering outdoor vendors. So Bill and I stopped by on a recent evening and were pleased to see a number of familiar faces from the Holland Farmers Market, as well as new ones from areas around Grand Rapids–all situated under a permanent outdoor shelter.

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But what I really love about the Downtown Market is its location. This market offers urban dwellers another option for fresh, local produce and food items.

Downtown Market, Grand Rapids, MI

Downtown Market, Grand Rapids, MI

This makes it possible for more people struggling with lower incomes to have access to fresh food, which means healthier options for all. And, it was great to see a van right there in the parking lot, ready to deliver donations to Heartside nonprofit organizations that help residents in the neighborhood.

Downtown Market, Grand Rapids, MI

Downtown Market, Grand Rapids, MI

Can’t wait to see what the Indoor Market Hall offers when it opens later this summer!

Show Your Love: Farmers Market Celebration in Full Swing

I Love My Farmers Market Celebration

American Farmland Trust is the founder of the I Love My Farmers Market Celebration and is the only national nonprofit dedicated to saving America’s farm and ranch land, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.

Between now and September 9, show your love for farmers by pledging to spend $10 at your local farmers market. You can pledge once each day and you can support more than one market.

I’m excited to see the support for Michigan markets. Check out where your state ranks in pledging. And remember to support your local farmers!

It’s Winter, and It’s Farmers Market Season!

Graphic via Grist.org

Graphic via Grist.org

Great news for locavores and anyone else who is trying to buy more fresh, local produce where you live: The number of winter farmers markets–those operating at least once between November and March–has risen by 52% this year!

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the number has increased from 1,225 in 2011 to 1,864 in 2012.

Graphic via Grist.org

Graphic via Grist.org

The graphic shows California, New York, and Florida topping the list, but here are the 2012 top 10 states for winter farmers markets:

1. California with 284

2. New York with 196

3. Florida with 105

4. Maryland with 70

5. Texas with 63

6. North Carolina with 62

7. Massachusetts with 59

8. Pennsylvania with 58

9. Georgia with 55

10. Virginia with 53

It’s great to see a few states in the snowy North making the list!

Vote for Your Favorite Farmers Market

Local Food and Local Farms

Last year I was encouraging ya’ll to vote for your favorite farmers market for the American Farmland Trust’s annual contest. It was fun watching the numbers as we approached the voting deadline. While I was disappointed that my local market, the Holland Farmers Market, did not make the final list, it was great to see that Grand Rapids’ Fulton Street Farmers Market did!

It’s time to cast your vote for this year’s contest!

American Farmland Trust holds the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets  contest to raise national awareness about the importance of buying fresh food from local farms and saving the farmland where it’s grown. You can vote for as many participating farmers markets as you choose, but you can only vote for each market once. At the end of the contest, one small, medium, large, and boutique, farmers market will win the title of “America’s Favorite Farmers Market” for 2011. The reward for the winning market in each category will be a shipment of No Farms No Food® tote bags, a feature article on the award-winning food site Epicurious.com, and other prizes. Categories are based on the number of vendors the farmers market has.

You have until midnight on August 31, 2011, to get your vote in!

Shopping at farmers markets is one of the best ways to support local farms, farmers, and our economy.

Pittsburgh’s Public Market: In the Heart of The Strip District

Whenever I travel, I’m on a mission for local food. This past weekend Bill and I made Pittsburgh’s Public Market in The Strip District our destination. Going to The Strip is a fun experience in itself–the old architecture, the hustle-and-bustle of a Saturday morning, the variety of ethnic foods (and I suppose the shopping if you’re into that sort of thing).

In the early 20th century, The Strip was the hub of the wholesale produce business in Pittsburgh. After the Depression, the flood of 1936, and World War II, food supplies decreased. Then trucks began to replace railroads as the preferred method of transportation, and grocery store chains continued to grow, putting small independent stores out of business and cutting out wholesalers by purchasing directly from growers.

By the 1970s there were about two dozen dealers left in the produce terminal. Remaining dealers began to expand their businesses by opening retail stores on Penn Avenue and Smallman Street. Today the Strip District is best known for its retail produce and ethnic food stores, restaurants, and coffee shops.

I love a neighborhood that focuses on food!

After wandering The Strip, we headed to the Public Market, an indoor farmers market with many vendors selling local and organic produce–farmed and foraged–as well as meat and dairy products from humanely treated animals.

Always lured by goat cheese, we stopped by Abbe Turner’s booth on our way out. She’s the cheesemaker at Lucky Penny Farm, which raises Nubian, La Mancha, and Alpine dairy goats in Northeast Ohio, less than 100 miles from Pittsburgh.

We got to sample both the Chevre and the aged Goat Rock. Delicious!

We only wish we had brought our cooler since it was 90 degrees that day and we were a long way from a fridge!

Delicata Squash Risotto with Leeks

Like I’ve said before about my approach to cooking, I often come up with ideas for meals based on what Bill and I have on hand–in the fridge, in the pantry, or in the freezer. And since the fall, I’ve been storing several varieties of winter squash I bought from Visser Farms, because they keep well for using in the wintertime.

One kind is delicata. I’ve never cooked with it before so when I saw Bon Appetit’s recipe for Risotto with Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Basil, I wondered if I could substitute the delicata for butternut. It turns out, sources say delicata tastes somewhat like a sweet potato, so I figured it was a good option to use in the risotto.

I made a number of other substitutions in this recipe as well. For example, I had some homemade chicken stock in the fridge that I needed to use so I substituted it for the vegetable broth. I didn’t have fresh basil so I just omitted it because I think thyme carries enough flavor on its own. And, as usual, I used Pecorino cheese instead of Parmesan to accommodate Bill’s cow dairy allergies.

It’s an easy recipe. After you peel the skin off the squash and scrape out the seeds, you chop it into small cubes and saute it for about 5 minutes in olive oil.

Then you slice up some leeks. These also came from Visser Farms and have been hanging out in my fridge for at least a month.

After removing the squash from the pot, you add the leeks and saute them with chopped fresh thyme in olive oil until tender.

Then add the rice (stirring for one minute) and broth.

Just like most risotto recipes, you keep adding broth as it gets absorbed by the rice, stirring frequently.

After about 15 minutes, you return the squash to the pot and cook about ten more minutes. Once the mixture is creamy and the broth absorbed, add fresh grated Pecorino cheese.

It’s a delicious meal on its own, or a yummy side dish.

Giving Thanks Locally: A Tribute to West Michigan Farmers

I didn’t go nuts searching for new recipes to prepare for Thanksgiving yesterday. Instead, I focused on seasonal recipes I enjoy but don’t often make because of time constraints. Because it was a holiday, I indulged in more time to be creative by cooking a range of dishes. And the goal at our house isn’t to eat until you’re stuffed: It’s to enjoy a sampling of many ingredients that were grown or raised locally and with passion by people we know.

This year on Thanksgiving I’d like to recognize all the farmers who contributed to the meal that Bill, our friend Sue, and I enjoyed. Many are regular vendors at the Holland Farmers Market. Thank you, farmers, for braving the cold temperatures at the market this time of year so we can conveniently purchase local produce!

Here’s what our Thanksgiving menu looked like:


Celery Root Bisque – made with celery root, shallots, and celery from Visser Farms

Roasted Onion and Carrot Soup – made with onions, carrots, and garlic from Visser Farms

Mixed Greens Salad with Pear, Pomegranate, and Warm Goat Cheese Croutons – made with fresh greens from my CSAMud Lake Farm

A Real Simple Roast Chicken – made with a happy, four-pound pastured chicken from Grassfields

Roasted Root Vegetables – with turnips, rutabagas, carrots and parsnips from Visser Farms

Oven-Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Onions – with sweet potatoes and red onions from Visser Farms

Leek and Potato Casserole – with leeks from Boeve Farm and potatoes from Visser Farms

Cabernet Cranberries – with fresh, local cranberries from The Berry Bunch

Cinnamon-Spiced Applesauce – with Empire apples from Skinner Homestead Acres.

Pear Crumble – with Anjou pears from Cosgrove Orchards

And thanks to Sue for bringing Creamed Onions, Mincemeat Pie from Crane’s Pie Pantry, and wine!

Eastern Market: A Lively Market for a Lively Neighborhood

One of my favorite things to do when I travel is visit farmers’ markets. It’s a fun way to see what’s in season in the area you’re exploring, or to buy some snacks for your trip.

I had read about the Eastern Market in Washington, D.C., so when Bill and I were there last month we decided to check it out one Sunday morning.  The Eastern Market is Washington D.C.’s oldest continually operated fresh food public market.

Built in 1873, it’s located in the heart of the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood, and is not only a destination for fresh food and handmade goods, but also a hub for community events. (It was a bit subdued that rainy morning but the pedestrian-only streets make this location an asset for social activities!)

In addition to various arts and crafts for sale, there are also farmers and outdoor food vendors selling local produce and other delicious items.

And inside, there are myriad indoor vendors who sell meat, poultry, pasta, bread, cheese, you name it.

They even have their own custom bike racks!

If you live in D.C., or plan to visit, check out this market with its locally grown fruits, vegetables, and flowers from nearby farms in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, plus more than 100 exhibitors of handmade arts and crafts.

Taste of Greenmarket 2010: A Celebration of Local Farmers, Food, and the Chefs Who Champion Them

Last Wednesday night Bill and I had the opportunity to attend the Third Annual Taste of Greenmarket in New York City, and what a feast it was. But it wasn’t just about eating. The event is a celebration of local farmers and food, and the chefs who champion them, all to benefit the Greenmarket’s Youth Education Project. A program of the nonprofit GrowNYC, Greenmarket is the largest and most diverse outdoor farmers market in the country.

Here’s how the event will help New York City school kids:

  • Greenmarket tours
  • Interactive Meet Your Farmer classroom visits
  • Farm Fresh Cooking Classes with professional chefs
  • On the Farm visits so city kids can learn how food is grown and how animals are raised
  • Seed to Plate standards-aligned curricula

The event was locavore heaven. Imagine the best chefs in New York, getting together in one location, using local ingredients, and offering their creations to sample all in one night. I had heard about the Taste of Greenmarket last year but not in time to be able to get to New York. This year, Bill and I planned ahead.

The place was packed.

Bill and I managed to sample many dishes.

Such as beer-poached lamb butter sausage with apple mostarda and Drunk Monk cheese from Rose Water.

And sheep’s yogurt panna cotta with Tristar strawberries and anise hyssop from Craftbar.

As well as short rib terrine with red Russian kale and tomato jam from Employees Only.

Around 30 chefs and mixologists were at the event including:

Julia Jaksic of Employees Only. She made the delicious beef rib terrine shown above. (Check out her blog, The Butcher’s Daughter, to see what else she’s up to.)

April Bloomfield (at far right) of The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, and The John Dory Oyster Bar. She made a fabulous fresh market bean and zucchini soup, by the way.

Dan Barber of Blue Hill New York and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. (Check out last summer’s blog posts to read how much I enjoyed my experience at both restaurants: “A Farmer’s Feast” and “Farm to City Dining.”)

Here are photos representing some of the other restaurateurs that created delicious tastes for us.

There was also a silent auction to raise additional funds for the cause.

And, did you notice the plates the food was served on? It’s “dinnerware from fallen leaves,” by Verterra. These environmentally-friendly plates, bowls and serving dishes are made only from two products: fallen leaves and water.

It was a very fun event, for a good cause and with ethical thinking behind it. Bill and I were so glad we attended, tasted, and contributed to a fundraiser with such a valuable purpose.

Spicing Things Up at the Holland Farmers Market

Today’s Chef Series demo at the Holland Farmers Market was called “Spicing Things Up” by Alonzo Salinas and the crew at Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant in Holland, Michigan.

Established in 1994 by his parents, Jose and Margarita, Alonzo is now owner and chef. Many family members are employed at the restaurant as well.

Like many of the chefs who share their recipes at the market, Alonzo said Margarita’s aims for the freshest ingredients possible.

They showed the crowd how to make salsa the way it’s been done in Mexico, by smashing the jalapenos and roasted tomatoes together with a mortar and pestle called a molcajete.

 They also demonstrated Chicken Tortilla Soup, which is on the menu at Margarita’s.

Doesn’t that look delicious? Margarita’s is not only my favorite Mexican restaurant in West Michigan, but it’s also the closest one to my home. We are so lucky to have this family-owned and operated authentic Mexican eatery in Holland.