Rochester to get farm fresh for the spring, summer

Downtown Rochester Farmers Market to open May 6

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published April 26, 2017

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ROCHESTER — The best of southeast Michigan’s growing season will soon come to Rochester.

The Downtown Rochester Farmers Market, now in its 18th season, will open May 6 at the corner of East Third and Water Street, just one block east of Main Street. The outdoor market will continue 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 28.

Taylor Clayton, marketing coordinator for the Rochester Downtown Development Authority, said the market is a staple in the Rochester area.

“We feel it is important to provide our community locally grown food that is Michigan-made,” she said.

Patrons can enjoy a wide variety of Michigan-grown or made products at the market — including vegetables, fruits, flowers, container gardens, fresh cut flowers, herbs, homemade baked goods, gnocchi, jams and jellies, honey, maple syrup, tea blends, locally roasted coffee, and various certified organic products, including eggs, beef and chicken.

“Every year we find someone exciting and new to feature at the market,” Clayton said. “This year we have between 30 and 40 farmers and venders that will be at our market regularly.”

Lee Uhlianuk, of Uhlianuk Specialities From the Farm, in North Branch, said he decided to give the Downtown Rochester Farmers Market a try for the first time this year after appearing at Rochester’s Kris Kringle Market in the winter.

“We were like the biggest thing there. It was like ice cream on a hot summer day. We were drawing everybody’s attention with our birch candles, reindeer and snowmen,” he said.

For more than 36 years, Uhlianuk’s family has operated a “twig furniture” business. Their twig furniture and accessories have been in Country Living, Better Homes & Garden, and Detroit Home Magazine. The family also operates a greenhouse, growing more than 110 varieties of heirloom tomato plants, heirloom peppers and zucchini, as well as other produce and perennials.

“Everything is all naturally grown, and we use organic seeds, so it’s beautiful,” he said.

In May, Uhlianuk said he will have a full supply of trellises of all sizes and shapes, as well as woven loveseats, twig benches, twig chairs, bird houses and a host of organic vegetable plants at the market.

“We sell 110 varieties of heirloom tomato plants, so people can purchase the plants and grow them themselves,” he said.

After shopping the vendors, market goers can listen to live entertainment and participate in children’s crafts and activities, which will change each week.

Children between the ages of 3 and 12 can join the The Marketeers’ Club, which allows them to participate in market activities and receive monthly notices of all upcoming children’s programs. The Marketeers’ Club is free to join. Kids can also participate in a weekly scavenger hunt for Pete the Pineapple to win a prize.

The Downtown Rochester Farmers Market will once again be participating in the Double Up Food Bucks program, a seasonal program offered through the Fair Food Network that provides customers who use their federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits to shop at the market with a one-to-one match to purchase Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables.

The Double Up Food Bucks program, Clayton said, gives recipients of public assistance access to fresh, healthy food while supporting the local farm economy.

“It’s just important for us to be able to provide that to our local community,” Clayton said.

As always, the DDA is expecting a great turnout at the market this year — especially for the opening May 6.

“The farmers market is a family-friendly venue and a great way to get out on a Saturday and enjoy the colors of Michigan produce and products,” Clayton said.

This year’s opening day festivities will include free tote bags filled with special offers from downtown merchants for the first 500 adult customers, pinwheels for kids, and live music by Rochester College student Brianna Wilkinson. Children can partake in a craft and enjoy a magic show performed by magician Gordon Russ. There will also be a chance to win a variety of gift certificates donated by downtown Rochester merchants, and a chance to enter the weekly harvest basket drawing to win a collection of products donated by market vendors.

The Downtown Rochester Farmers Market is presented by the Rochester DDA and Crittenton Hospital Medical Center.

For more information, visit www.downtownrochestermi.com or call (248) 656-0060.

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