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Tag Archive | "Rockford Farm Market"

The public has voted and the results are in

Rockford’s Farm Market stands atop the nation

Cliff and Nancy Hill were volunteer campaign managers during the farm market contest. Using the tried and true “hunt and peck method,” Cliff laboriously inputs one of the 3,405 farm market contest votes collected Saturday mornings during the 13 weeks of the America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest. Rockford won with a total of 6,083 votes.

by Cliff and Nancy Hill

When the online polling site closed last Wednesday evening at midnight, the Rockford Farm Market found itself atop the leader board in all market size categories in the 2011 America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest.

The online contest is an annual nationwide challenge, sponsored by the American Farmland Trust, a pro-agriculture organization with headquarters in Washington D.C.  More information and complete rankings across the country can be found at www.farmland.org .

With 6,083 votes, Rockford found itself in first place nationwide in the small market size category (16-30 vendors), followed by the Venice Farmers Market of Venice, FL some 475 votes behind.  Our little sister, the Manistique, MI farmers market (up in the U.P., eh) finished second nationwide, with 3,208 votes, in the boutique market category (2-15 vendors) to another Florida farm market in North Port, FL.

All Michiganders have much to be proud of with two small-town farm markets, strictly vending locally harvested and fresh from the field Michigan produce rising (as cream does) to top rankings.

The Rockford Farm Market has actually pulled off a trifecta in this contest. First, our Farm Market claims the prize as Michigan’s Favorite Farm Market.  Second, our Farm Market claims the prize as America’s Favorite Farm Market in the small market category.  And third, market categories aside, having polled higher vote totals than any market nationwide, our Farm Market has earned the right to claim it is truly, “America’s Favorite Farm Market”.

Each week the swell of media coverage of Rockford’s lead brought new visitors to Rockford and its Farm Market seeking to discover what all the “buzz” was about.  They loved the “charm” of our town and its “Pure Michigan” farm market and added to our vote totals at the market’s polling site. A big thanks to the readers of the Cedar Springs Post for your help in making Rockford America’s favorite farm market!

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Even if you’ve never been to farm market or hate vegetables

Picture perfect setting: A recent Saturday morning at the “soon-to-be” (hopefully) America’s Favorite Farmers Market in downtown Rockford, MI.

by Cliff and Nancy Hill

Listen up people. When the fat lady sings next Wednesday evening (Aug. 31) at 12:00 p.m. midnight, the America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest will be over.
Rockford’s Farm Market has been clinging to the lead in this nationwide contest for the past 8 weeks. Not only do we lead overall in all market size categories, more importantly, we also lead in our small market size category.
Our opponent, Venice, FL, is wily. Their strategy in this contest has been to hang just behind Rockford in vote totals and then overnight close the gap. We are fearful of what might occur in the final hours of voting on August 31. Remember we are talking about Florida, the state of the “hanging chads.”
To those of you who have already voted, we thank you! However, your support is still needed in these final days and hours of the contest. We ask you to use your considerable social media networking skills to reach out to any and everyone to also cast their votes for Rockford’s great farm market.
This contest has become somewhat more than farm market vs. farm market.  It has somehow morphed into a state vs. state competition of bragging rights. With two farm markets in Michigan (Rockford and Manistique, in the U.P.) vying for titles in their respective market size categories against two farm markets in Florida (Venice and North Port). We ourselves like to think of this as a contest between “Pure Michigan” and “Alligator Alley.”
Now for one very last time let’s win two for Michigan. If you haven’t voted, go online to: www.farmland.org/vote or simpler still, visit the Rockford Farm Market this Saturday (your last opportunity to vote in person) and add your vote to the more than 4,000 that have already been cast. We need your vote to prove that Rockford’s Farm Market is truly America’s Favorite Farmers Market.

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Roller coaster week in Farm Market contest

Long time Cedar Springs/Rockford area farmer, Merrell Post from Post Farms, is back for the 11th year at Rockford Farm Market. Post Farms produces fruits, vegetables, flowers and the “best sweet corn in the world.” (L – R) Walt Chapton and the man himself, Merrell Post.

by Cliff and Nancy Hill

What a ride it was last week for Rockford’s Farm Market in the America’s Favorite Farm Market contest.  Our once comfortable lead in the small market size category (16 – 30 vendors) was nearly wiped out by our evil archrival Venice, FL.  Almost as bad, towards the end of the week we lost our lofty position as overall leader in all market size categories to Las Cruces, NM.

The news is much better this week however.  Rockford’s Farm Market is maintaining a respectable lead against Venice, and we are happy to report that we have closed the gap with Las Cruces, NM and are in striking distance of again regaining the nationwide lead (as of Tuesday evening). Our little sister farm market in Manistique, MI is also holding its own against its competition (Punta Gorda, FL) with a slight lead in their boutique market size category (15 or less vendors).

We woke up early last Saturday morning to a thunderstorm dumping buckets of rain on Rockford threatening to wash the Rockford Farm Market into the Rogue River.  Just what we didn’t need because voter turnout at farm market has been our greatest source of votes in our ever-increasing voting totals.  Thankfully, the storm clouds parted around 8 a.m. and the market faithful, along with first timers, turned out from near and far.

In response to radio, TV, and newspaper coverage regular market goers, who hadn’t as yet voted, and first timers, wanting to see what all of the buzz was about, arrived from all over West Michigan to swell our vote totals and fill their market baskets with a cornucopia of freshly harvested, locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Sitting at our voting table every Saturday we have been heartened by people telling us they have become addicted to checking voting totals on the contest’s website (www.farmland.org/vote).  They tell us they are also using social media (facebook, twitter, etc) to reach out to their many “friends” urging them to also vote for Rockford’s Farm Market.

Apparently our news partners, the Manistique, MI Pioneer Tribune newspaper and closer to home, the Cedar Springs Post are reaching out to their readers in a way that is also increasing our voting totals.  First time visitors to our market from Cedar Springs have told us that they didn’t even know of our farm market, let alone the contest, until they read about it in the Post.  Our mutual aid pact has resulted in voters from West Michigan voting for the Manistique Farm Market and voters from all over the U.P. voting for Rockford’s Farm Market.  We even learned that the Sault Indian Nation peoples of the U.P. have also been encouraged, in their regular newsletter, to support the Rockford Farm Market by casting a vote our way.  Talk about gratifying.

It only gets better. Market Master “Lion Bob” Winegar has secured the presence of a new vendor at Farm Market. This particular vendor might turn out to be the long-sought missing link needed to round out the market’s offerings.  New at market last week was the Woodbridge Dairy Farm from Byron Center, MI who fills the need for a vendor offering grass-fed beef and milk-fed pork processed and packaged in various cuts.  A limited selection is currently available until September when they harvest their animals and refill their freezers.

Woodbridge Dairy Farm’s animals are treated with no drugs or hormones.  Their steers are born and raised on pasture. Grass-fed, they do get the option of corn silage and hay (also chemical free) raised on their farm. Pigs are treated to the luxury of fresh milk from the farm’s dairy cattle. They love it and grow well with milk. They have the farm’s corn available to them but they like the milk better. Milk fed pork has a creamier taste and a texture that cuts with a fork. The farm’s butchered offerings are processed and packaged by the USDA certified Byron Center Meats. A full and complete line of all of the farm’s meat offerings will be available at the Rockford Farm Market during the entire month of October.

We encourage everyone who hasn’t cast a vote for Rockford’s Farm Market to climb on the bandwagon. Votes may be cast online at: www.farmland.org/vote or by visiting Rockford’s downtown Farm Market Saturday morning (8 a.m.–1 p.m.) during the final two weeks of the contest to cast your vote in person. Remember Manistique’s Farm Market would appreciate a vote also.

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Rockford’s lead evaporates in Farm Market contest

Let’s win 1 for Rockford and 2 for Michigan

Cradled on his father’s chest, 3-month old Brady Cronkright, assists his father Tom as Dad votes for the Rockford Farm Market.

by Cliff and Nancy Hill, Rockford Squire

The America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest voting website shows that the Rockford Farm Market is not alone in Michigan in trying to win a title as America’s Favorite Farmers Market. There will be four winners named, one for each of four market size categories: boutique (15 or less vendors), small (16 – 30), medium (31 – 55), and large (56 + vendors).  Currently Rockford leads the entire nation in all market size categories.  Winning overall would be like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

With three weeks remaining in the contest, we find this is no easy task. Every time Rockford (pop. 5,700) builds up a comfortable lead in the small market size category our chief competitor, Venice, FL (pop. 22,000), comes charging right back. In a 36-hour period over the weekend, Venice voters cast a whopping 400 new votes that cut deeply into our once comfortable lead.

This smiling lass, Hannah Ott (9), greets visitors as they enter the Manistique, Mich. Farmers Market.

Manistique, Mich. (pop. 3,050), in the boutique size category, finds itself in the same position in an even more hotly contested race. They find themselves with a weekly flip-flopping lead against another Florida market in Punta Gorda (pop. 17,100).

What we have here, in essence, are two Davids vs. two Goliaths. Somewhat even more ironic is that, at this time in the growing season of Florida, much of their farm market produce is shipped down from the north.

So, in an effort to assist one another in this contest, the Manistique Farmers Market, with the strong support of the Manistique newspaper, The Pioneer Tribune, have joined forces with the Rockford Squire Newspaper in promoting our respective markets in the remaining weeks of the contest. The Cedar Springs Post is also joining in and we welcome their support.

This would be a great way to bring some positive national attention, for a change, to Michigan.  “And to think we are only the little guys,” says Kerry Ott, Market Master of the Manistique Farmers Market. “We will promote this to our supporters as: Let’s win 1 for Manistique and 2 for Michigan.”

Making a strong connection with Rockford, Manistique Market Master Ott tells us his mother, Doris (Andrews) Ott, graduated from Rockford High School in 1942 and after marriage raised her family in Greenville. “If she were still alive, she would be so excited to see a connection between Manistique and Rockford!” said Ott.

So wherever you reside, if you’ve already cast your vote for Rockford in this nationwide contest consider casting an additional vote for our “little sister” the Manistique Michigan Farmers Market. Contest rules permit voting for one farm market in each market size category. Manistique voters will attempt to return the favor by voting for Rockford’s Farm Market. A vote for these 2 farm markets is a vote for Michigan and all Michiganders, regardless of where they reside, are encouraged to support both markets in this endeavor.

If you have not as yet voted for Rockford’s Farm Market you may do so online at: www.farmland.org/vote or better and easier still pay a visit to Rockford’s “Pure” Farm Market on Saturday morning (8 a.m.—1 p.m.) and cast a live vote on site.

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