[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ Sweetwater Local Foods Market REPORT #5 (July 30, 2005)

Enviro-Mich message from Christopher Bedford <chrisbedford@charter.net>

To the Sweetwater Market Friends and Family,

The Sweetwater Local Foods Market’s GRAND OPENING has just ended, and in our opinion it was a success. Here’s what happened.

The opening ceremony began at 9am with a blessing of the market by Tom Wagner, pastor & member of Muskegon Cooperating Churches. Two politicians spoke - Senator Gerald Van Woerkom [34^th District], Chair of the Michigan Senate Agriculture Committee – and Pat Jordan, Supervisor of Muskegon Charter Township, where our market resides.

Senator Van Woerkom touted the attraction agriculture projects like the Sweetwater Market has for visitors to West Michigan. Supervisor Jordan spoke of his deep personal connection to healthy food businesses. His family owned the Health Hutt chain of health food stores up until 1991.

At 9:15 am the two leaders – one a Republican and one a Democrat – joined together to ring the new Sweetwater Local Foods Market bell to officially open the market. We found the old farmyard bell in an antique shop at 3pm on Friday. Lew Jancek, Diana’s father, quickly constructed a great base Friday night, and it was painted and ready to go by dusk. Thanks again to Lew.

Once again the weather produced a perfect Michigan summer day. And the market hosted a steady, flow of customers – some repeat and some new. When asked, “How did you hear about the market?” many replied “from a friend.” A good sign.

Rae Jean Erickson arranged for live music for the opening – Mary Jo Stewart and a singer named simply Anisa. Both solo singers performed beautifully at the opening and throughout the market day. Thanks to them.

Channel 13 news, WZZM-TV (ABC), showed up a little after noon. They did a report on the market that was incredible. They teased the story throughout their 6pm newscast and then got our market’s message exactly right. Everyone is starting to think about their food, how it is produced, and where it comes from.

And Sweetwater’s “heathy, humane, homegrown” food was abundant and delicious this market day.

Jim Loe of Funny Farm had a steady stream of customers buying up piles of his specialty certified organic produce including baby purple carrots. Jim, we steamed a bunch of those carrots with nothing added and they were sweet & delicious.

Nathan Creswick of Creswick Farms solved his childcare dilemma and joined us for our Grand Opening Ceremony Day, after planning not to attend. His Muskegon base continues to grow, with customers buying out his Garlic Kielbasa and other favorites. Next week, he will have nitrite-free smoked bacon – a signature item for his farm.

Paul Keiser of Ag & Health Alive was joined once again by his mother Jeannette. He sold more of those tasty apricots, along with books & organic garden supplies. We're using Maxicrop purchased from Paul for the first time this year and already seeing the difference in greener, stronger plants. Jeanette, who is 95 years old, is our unofficial “queen of the market”.

Dennise and son Matthew Wright of Liberty Family Farm did a lively meat business. Dennise & husband Andy are working hard to develop their West Michigan customer base after moving here from eastern Michigan.

Gayle Filbrun of Happy Hill Farms sold his Salatin style free-range chicken to a lot of repeat customers including some of the market’s farmers. We missed seeing one of his children this week; Gayle said daughter Ester will return next week.

Kimon Kotos sold a dozen of Bernie Ware’s certified organic fruit pies and a large pile of the Brick Oven Bakery’s organic bread. Bernie’s pies are simply the best we have ever tasted. How he gets that perfect flaky crust from whole wheat is a mystery to us, but we're glad he does.

Anna Timmerman was away at a Future Farmers of America leadership retreat. Her father and brother came to staff her popup in her place. They did a good business and Anna's father talked about how “markets like this are key to the survival of small farmers.” Amen.

Diana Jancek of Harmony Gardens was joined by Patrice Bobier of Earthscape/Full Circle Farms to sell a wide variety of healthy stuff. Diana’s freshly picked, organic but not certified tomatoes disappeared in minutes after opening. Patrice sold lots of those huge red onions again, and customers marvelled at the size of the gold and orange juicing carrots. This "community tent" was also joined for an hour by Lois Jancek of Fruitland Berry Farm who quickly sold out her first of the season delicious blackberries.

The demand for the Meerman’s Raw Milk Aged cheese continues to grow. The Lamont Cheddar sold well this week. After tasting the Gouda w/Chives, Diana’s grandson, Logan asked for "five more, please". This is really great cheese.

We sold lots of coffee and tea with the help of Logan and Maya Jancek. Thanks to them.

Dr. Norbert Gerondale answered health and nutrition questions under our new banner announcing our guest expert of the day. Visiting this tent were a bunch of Norb’s patients whose banter made the market hours lively. Norb and his wife Susan are great contributors to the success of the market. The Market will do more and more education and outreach on nutrition as the season continues.

Thanks to all who volunteered.

Lois Jancek
Terrie Hempel
Susan & Norb Gerondale
Rae Jean Erickson
Michael Anderson, for his continued work on our website, (www.sweetwaterlocalfoodsmarket.org}
…and to the Health Hutt for donating the tea and coffee.

The Market continues to be an incubator for change, as we are getting weekly inquiries from new farmers asking not only how to enter the market, but wanting information about how to begin their own organic practice. We are talking about how we can be more intentional and effective in this role.

Thanks to everyone.

Peace and good food,

Diana Jancek & Chris Bedford
Sweetwater Local Foods Market co-Managers
#6543 Hancock Road
Montague, MI 49437
231-893-3937 (o)
231-670-4817 (c)

The Sweetwater Local Foods Market is Michigan's FIRST Farmers Market to exclusively sell humanely raised animal products and chemical-free/Certified Organic fruits and vegetables. SATURDAYS 8am-1pm in the parking lot of Russ' Restaurant at the intersection of Route 31 and M120 (Holton Road) in Muskegon.

=============================================================ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"