Mother Nature has finally released the winter death grip on the state of Michigan (watch me jinx us.) Last night while walking the dog I realized how ridiculously green the lawns and buds on trees were, how everything looked soft and glowed with life. This of course is before the heat of summer will regulate things back to yellow/brown (we’ll deal with that in due course.)
Right now we relish warmer weather, cool breezes and a rebirth of Michigan. This is also one of my favorite seasons, spring you ask? Nay, Farmer’s Market season. Living in Grand Rapids has spoiled my family and I with great restaurants, many of which have a bold claim of farm to plate fresh. I love this concept and I love how the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market makes this happen.
The Farmer’s Market provides some very important contributions to our community. The following I wish to share with you.
1. This magical veggie/fruit/plant/dairy/meat-filled oasis is right in the heart of the city. I don’t have to drive all over West Michigan to get my local fresh foods, I need only to pack up my canvas bags (oh how earthy!), my mini man and the stroller to get to my foodie haven.
2. I can actually talk to the people who raise the farm animals, create the cheeses, tend to the land & plant our food. I can ask them questions regarding what they use to keep away pests, how I can use my food in a new recipe, what the best times are to plant the flowers I buy, or even what the difference is between the lemon basil versus the spicy basil plants I am considering.
3. It’s also a unique blend of humanity. If you did nothing else at the Farmer’s Market but sit and people-watch for an hour (while sipping your eco-friendly locally roasted coffee), you’d have spent your time well. Few places can bring along so many different individuals so many unique folks from different walks of life. All congregating in the same space, buying the same foods that they will take back to their respective homes.
4. The Farmer’s Market is a great place for families. I can keep the mini man entertained here for a long time. There is so much to explore for kids of all ages. Babies love seeing all the colors and life moving around them. Toddlers, like mini man, love asking questions about the different plants and veggies they are seeing. Meanwhile older kids can learn about how the foods for sale are planted, harvested and then prepped for us.
5. It’s a tradition. I’ve been going to the Farmer’s Market for almost 10 years now, hardly a lifetime, but it’s part of my spring/summer/fall tradition. I love looking forward to my trip. Hoping I will find something to inspire a new meal or help me create the perfect herb garden.
6. The food! There are some foods I only enjoy during Farmer’s Market season. The best example is the veggie foccacia from the bread lady down in Kalamazoo. Without fail, her family is at the Farmer’s Market each week selling delicious breads and pizza crusts. Each time I am there I make sure to pick up some goodies from her stand. I know it’s fresh-made and we hardly wait longer than afternoon to bake some bread to enjoy.
Above all else, I love the Farmer’s Market because I know my food is grown with care, I know it’s fresh, I know it’s delicious and it rivals the prices at the supermarket.
So join your community at your local Farmer’s Market and enjoy some fresh foods as part of your diet and some cultural exposure to the folks you call neighbors.