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!