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April 23, 2014

Rochester gets fresh for opening day of farmers market

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

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Rochester gets fresh for opening day of farmers market
Market-goers select some Michigan-grown asparagus from a vendor at the Downtown Rochester Farmers Market during a previous market season.

ROCHESTER — Saturdays in Rochester will be bustling once again as the 15th season of the Downtown Rochester Farmers Market comes to town.

Kicking off May 3, the market will bring fresh fruit, plants and vegetables to the city this season.

“We’re so excited. Especially after this long, long winter. It’s kind of the first sign of spring, when the farmers market opens, and we’re really looking forward to it. It should be a really good season,” Downtown Development Authority Marketing Coordinator Nancy Voges said.

The outdoor market is open 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays May 3-Oct. 27 at the corner of E. Third and Water Street, just one block east of Main Street.

Patrons can enjoy a wide variety of Michigan-grown or -made products at the market — including vegetables, fruits, container gardens, fresh cut flowers, herbs, homemade baked goods, gnocchi, jams and jellies, honey, maple syrup, and locally roasted coffee, as well as various certified organic products, including eggs, beef and chicken. The market also features specialty food products such as seasoned meat rubs, sauces and salsas.

“Basically, you can get everything you need down there,” Voges said. “The products are all fresh and produced by local farmers, so you are supporting the local farming community and the local economy.”

Along with the old favorites, some new vendors will participate in the market this year, including a new vendor selling 13 flavors of kale chips and flavored pumpkin seeds, someone doing knife-sharpening, and a new group of farmers who will be selling a variety of certified organic and naturally grown produce.

Les Roggenbuck, formerly of East River Organic Farm in the thumb of Michigan, is now a partner at Upland Hills Farm in Oxford and will offer patrons the farm’s organic beef, chicken, pork, eggs and produce at the market this year. Roggenbuck said the farm is certified organic, so all of its practices are along that line, with no pesticides or herbicides.

“All of our seeds and inputs, such as feed that we purchase, are from certified organic farms and are non-GMO, although we try to grow as much of it as we can,” he said. “Our beef is 100 percent grass fed, so we do mostly pasture and hay for them, although we are putting in a brand-new sprouting system this spring and we are going to feeding our animals mostly sprouts from here on out, and we will be using organic grain to sprout.”

New this season, the Downtown Rochester Farmers Market will accept Electronic Benefits Transfer, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Bridge Cards. This initiative, through the Rochester DDA, gives recipients of public assistance access to fresh, healthy food while supporting the local farm economy.

“We want to make sure that people in the area know that they can go to the information booth and they can get a token, valued at $1 each, and use their Bridge Card at various vendors,” Voges said.

Market-goers can also listen to live entertainment and participate in children’s crafts and activities, which will both change each week.

As always, Voges said she is expecting great crowds at the Farmers Market this year — especially for the opening May 3.

“Opening day should be fun,” Voges said.

This year’s opening day festivities will include free canvas tote bags — sponsored by Kidz 1st Pediatrics — filled with special offers from downtown merchants for the first 500 adult customers, as well as live music by blues artist Paul Miles and a colorable 20-foot monster canvas mural project for the whole family.

There will also be a chance to win one of more than 20 $25 gift certificates donated by downtown Rochester merchants, and the chance to enter the weekly harvest basket drawing to win a collection of products donated by market vendors.

On Saturday, May 10, children are encouraged to bring something unique to the market  —  like a boot or a watering can — to pot an herb for mom or grandma for Mother’s Day. All children’s activities throughout the season are sponsored by Penn Station East Coast Subs and Rochester Advanced Dentistry.  

The Downtown Rochester Farmers Market is presented by the Rochester Downtown Development Authority and C & G Newspapers. 

For more information, call the DDA at (248) 656-0060 or visit ww.DowntownRochesterMI.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.