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The farmers’ market was locavore and farm-to-table before those buzz terms existed. An idea as old as civilization itself, outdoor markets full of locally harvested produce and goods have always functioned as a social glue, where families can meet the people responsible for getting food onto their tables.
As important to the sustenance of local culture as it is to life, the farmers’ market today functions as an appealing, no-middleman alternative to its more heavily capitalized descendent, the indoor supermarket. Considering West Michigan’s deep agricultural traditions, it should be no surprise that farmers’ markets abound. Here are some of the best choices in the area.
Michigan Farmers Market Association
Before you shop, research. A one-stop resource for all things farmers’ market-related in Michigan, this organization works to promote and sustain the vital roles these markets play in their communities, and their historic importance in advancing the local food movement. The MIFMA’s website provides a handy tool for anyone in the state to find and contact their nearest farmers’ market.
LOCATED: 480 Wilson Rd., Room 172, East Lansing
Holland Farmers’ Market
Welcoming more than 75 vendors who offer flowers, baked goods, dairy and, of course, fresh vegetables and fruits, the Holland Farmers Market has all of your produce needs covered. And like the best farmers’ markets, there’s plenty more going on, including performances, activities for kids and demonstrations by chefs.
OPEN: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, May—November
150 W. 8th St., Holland
Sweetwater Local Foods Market
Open year-round and offering entirely organic products, this Muskegon market requires its vendors to sign a pledge verifying their commitment to sustainable and ethical food-production practices. This is surely one of the best spots in West Michigan to get produce that is just as good for the planet as it is for your family.
OPEN: Saturdays 9 a.m.-noon, year-round
At Mercy Health Lakes Village, 6401 Prairie St., Muskegon
Fulton Street Farmers’ Market
Grand Rapids’ oldest and largest farmers’ market got even bigger in 2012 — 90 years after it opened — with a massive new pavilion. It remains THE place to be on a Saturday morning in the summer, but keeps regular hours throughout the week, along with hosting the ARTisan market onSundays, where local artists and craftspeople sell their work.
OPEN: First Saturday of May through the Saturday before Christmas: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
January through April: Saturdays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Rockford Farm Market
Rockford’s picturesque downtown is the perfect setting for an outdoor trip to replenish your produce supply. Located near the White Pine Trail and Rogue River, the Rockford Farm Market won the title of “America’s Favorite Farmers’ Market” from the American Farmland Trust in 2011.
OPEN: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, May—October
54 S. Main St., Rockford
Terra Square Farmers Market
Hudsonville’s rich agricultural heritage is on full display at the Terra Square mixed-use space and community center, which also offers entertainment, work spaces and educational opportunities. The market also sponsors a pantry program, where guests can pick up a premade box with food and chef-created recipes any Wednesday or Saturday.
OPEN: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, June—September
Terra Square, 3380 Chicago Dr., Hudsonville
Southeast Area Farmers’ Market
The farmers’ market in Grand Rapids’ Martin Luther King Jr. Park is committed to serving and empowering its surrounding community through food access. An effort coordinated by the grassroots nonprofit Our Kitchen Table, the market’s vendors are mostly women of color, home growers and neighborhood residents.
OPEN: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays, July—November
Martin Luther King Jr. Park, 900 Fuller Ave. SE, Grand Rapids
Kentwood Farmers’ Market
A convenient suburban destination for families interested in avoiding the crowds at larger markets, the Kentwood market emphasizes local produce and welcomes all visitors to its location at the Kentwood library’s parking lot.
OPEN: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, June—October
4950 Breton Ave. SE, Kentwood
Grand Haven Market
It’s difficult to imagine a better use of a summer morning than visiting Grand Haven’s scenic riverside Chinook Pier (look for the green canopy) to browse locally grown produce as well as baked goods, flowers, jams, jellies and honeys.
OPEN: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, May—October (and Wednesdays starting in June)
Chinook Pier, 301 N. Harbor Dr., Grand Haven
Spring Lake Farm & Garden Market
There’s never a bad day to fill your kitchen with local produce, and if Saturday doesn’t work for you, Spring Lake hosts its farmers’ market on Thursdays to accommodate differing schedules.
OPEN: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursdays, June—October
Harvest Bible Chapel Parking Lot, 225 E. Exchange St., Spring Lake
S. Kamphuis Blueberries, Ltd.
Now a fourth- and fifth-generation operation within Holland’s Kamphuis family, this farm and market remains one of West Michigan’s primary suppliers of fresh, quality blueberries. It also offers one of West Michigan’s foremost you-pick experiences, with 12 acres of blueberries set aside for that purpose.
OPEN: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, mid-July—August (tentatively)
4140 148th Ave., Holland
Kalamazoo Farmers Markets
With a history extending to the mid-19th Century, the Kalamazoo market has always prided itself on fostering interaction between families, businesses and the farmers who fill their tables. Now operated by PFC Natural Grocery and Deli, the market features 100 vendors weekly, as well as live music and, on every third Thursday during the summer, a Night Market with food trucks.
OPEN: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, May—November
1204 Bank St., Kalamazoo