Tag Archives: Holland Farmers’ Market

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!

For Your Picnic: Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich

Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich

Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich

If you’re going to the beach, on a hike, for a bike ride, or on a road trip, the Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich is a good companion for a picnic lunch. And now is the perfect time to buy its ingredients in season at the Holland Farmers’ Market.

You can buy everything there (except for olives). Seriously. Even the feta cheese and the bread. And if you need oil and vinegar to make the vinaigrette, just run up the street to Fustini’s.

What I love about this recipe is that it begs for improvisation. Don’t like tomatoes? Try fresh Bell peppers instead. Not a fan of olives? Leave them off and add some capers. Substitute chevre for feta cheese. Numerous combinations are possible!

I was headed to Pereddies’ restaurant and deli in Washington Square to buy kalamata olives for the sandwich, so I decided to try their olive oil bread instead of a big round loaf of sourdough like the recipe suggests. It’s the perfect vehicle for this sandwich!

Below is the original recipe from Southern Living, along with a slideshow of the ingredients and process. It serves 4-6 people.

Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich


2/3 cup vinaigrette

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 (8-inch) round sourdough bread loaf (about 16 ounces)

2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

1 large tomato, sliced

1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese

1 medium cucumber, sliced

1/2 medium-size purple onion, sliced

1/4 cup sliced ripe olives

Whisk first 4 ingredients. Cut bread in half horizontally. Scoop out inside of bread halves, leaving 2-inch shells; brush inside with 3 tablespoons vinaigrette mixture. Layer lettuce and tomato in bottom half of bread, brushing tomato with remaining vinaigrette mixture. Layer cheese and next 3 ingredients over tomato. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 2 hours. (Place a large plate on top of sandwich, weighting it down with cans, if necessary, to compress sandwich.) Cut into wedges.

Wrap it up and go!

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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.

Freeze Now, Feast Later

Last year I discovered the art of freezing produce. My friend Lois told me how to freeze berries and I spent the summer squirreling away strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries to last throughout the winter months. I enjoyed them for breakfast in yoghurt, oatmeal, and pancakes right up until about March, when I ran out.

After attending a freezing and canning workshop last fall, I thought I would start canning this year. It looked so much easier than I remembered from the first time I did it and failed. But, I have simply fallen back on what’s easiest for me: freezing. It takes less effort, equipment, and time.

And, when I learned you could freeze some vegetables–such as green onions and leeks–without blanching first, that opened the door beyond berries.

What I learned last year is freezer bags are a necessity. And, instead of packing my produce into gallon baggies, this year I bought quart-sized bags (which I will recycle, btw) so that it takes less time to finish off a bag and I’ll avoid trapping air inside every time I grab a handful of berries or onions or leeks.

Yesterday I bought green onions from CJ Veggies at the Holland Farmers Market. To freeze them, I simply washed and trimmed them, let them dry, and chopped them up. Then I put them in bags marked with the date they went into the freezer.

I’m telling you, looking at produce in the grocery store in Michigan in the wintertime is getting more and more repulsive and depressing. But freezing your stock takes planning and time. While my friends are out in boats on Lake Michigan or sauntering around West Michigan beach resort towns this Independence Day, I am “putting up” (is that the term for freezing?) my produce for next winter. And I know I will appreciate it then.

Who couldn’t resist opening a bag of frozen Michigan berries for breakfast in the middle of February? I’m so excited at the thought of it. That’s what motivates me to buy extra local produce to freeze now. I will certainly feast later.

Cilantro Doesn’t Like Sub-Zero Temps

Earlier this month, I gave an update on my Winter Herb Garden–the one I bought from Visser Farms at the Holland Farmers Market in October.

It looked pretty good on January 5.

The herb garden on January 5, 2011

All that had died was the basil, which didn’t surprise me because basil really doesn’t like cold temps.

Now that we’re in the dead of winter, things are looking pretty sad.

Winter Herb Garden on January 23, 2011

I think the kale is going to make a come-back. But I’m not sure about the cilantro. (That’s it next to the basil that died earlier this winter.)

Over the weekend, it got down to -4 degrees, which is pretty darn cold for West Michigan.

Do you think this is the end of the Winter Herb Garden? It may be time to harvest a salad. Stay tuned to see what survives!

My Winter Garden Experiment in January

The herb garden on January 5, 2011

Today I thought I’d update you on my Winter Herb Garden Experiment. Remember last fall when I bought a pot of herbs and greens from Visser Farms at the Holland Farmers Market? Here’s what it looked like in October:

I had promised to report back every month. Whoops! Here it is, January, and I haven’t shared any news of the garden’s progress. That’s partly because it was doing so well, I didn’t have much to report. However, with cold temps finally arriving in December, the basil, alas, keeled over. You can see it in the front of the pot–that poor yellowy dead thing.

Even though our breezeway gets a a fair amount of sun and light because it’s on the south side of the house, and it basically feels like a refrigerator most of the time (as opposed to a freezer), it’s just too cold for basil.  Here’s today’s reading on the breezeway thermometer. (I think it’s in the 40s.)

I was happy, however, to find the spinach is doing well so I added some to the Miso Soup I made for lunch a couple days ago.

And, of all things, the cilantro is doing great! I’m amazed because I have trouble growing cilantro outside. I’m guessing it’s the soil. Cilantro must love dark, rich soil like the Vissers put in the pot.

Everything except the basil has survived so far. Once in awhile I pinch off some parsley or greens to use in the kitchen. I’ll report back in another month or two on progress!

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!

Crane Dance Farm’s Mobile Meat Market

Yesterday, when I was at the Holland Farmers Market stocking up on produce for the winter, I stopped by the Crane Dance Farm booth to pick up some stew meat for Beef Bourguignon. Owned by Jill Johnson and Mary Wills and located in Middleville, Michigan, Crane Dance Farm is one of Bill’s and my favorite choices for meat when we need to supplement our stash from Lubbers Farm.

Mary and Jill from Crane Dance Farms

In the winter, we usually buy meat from Crane Dance Farm at the West Michigan Co-op, but yesterday Tim and Stephanie Pierce, two of the farm’s apprentices, gave me a flyer advertising their winter schedule. I was thrilled to learn they will be setting up their Mobile Meat Market at the Holland Civic Center one Thursday afternoon a month from December through April! (Check out their Winter Delivery Schedule on the farm’s website.)

So if you’re looking for a healthy, happy source of meat–from grassfed beef and lamb to pastured pork, poultry, and eggs–visit the Crane Dance Farm Mobile Meat Market in Holland. The bonus? They’re Animal Welfare Approved.

Time to Stock Up for Winter

In case you thought the growing season was over, I’m here to say–at least in West Michigan–it’s still going strong.

Check out the bounty of vegetables I picked up today at the Holland Farmers Market, primarily from Visser Farms: potatoes, carrots, red and yellow onions, tomatoes, and garlic. Plus, I got some red peppers from another vendor.

Now is the time to stock up. You can keep things like squash and apples in your garage, or some place that the temperatures won’t get much below freezing. I have found that root vegetables, however, do better in cold storage, such as the refrigerator. And, I’ve heard that some root vegetables, such as carrots, can be stored in sand, or in the ground.

Even though the actual market will end in Holland on December 11, you can still get local produce from Visser Farms throughout the winter on Fridays, or at a couple of indoor markets in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Visit their website for more information.

Thanks to the farmers who are braving the cold weather by coming out through mid-December to sell their produce in Holland!

My Winter Herb Garden Experiment

Today I went to the Holland Farmers Market, as I often do on Saturdays, but I know that the season will soon come to a close, so I’m thinking of the winter ahead.

Visser Farms, one of the largest vendors with a big variety of vegetables, was selling a potted herb garden that I just couldn’t resist. I was looking for a pot of parsley to keep in my breezeway, along with my rosemary, like I did last winter, when I spotted this nice mixture of herbs, kale, and arugula.

I have to say, I’m a bit skeptical about the basil surviving long. Tomorrow night temps are supposed to be in the 20’s. But my breezeway stays pretty temperate. And the windows face south, so it’s sort of like a greenhouse.

What do you think? Any chance everything will survive?

I’ll report back each month. Meanwhile, it’s nice to enjoy fresh, young green plants to snip for my culinary adventures as the season wanes into winter.

Next time I report on the herb garden, we will likely have snow!