If you come to Holland, Michigan, be sure to visit on a Saturday during the months of May to December Why? To visit the incredibly impressive farmer’s market, of course. (It’s also operational on Wednesdays through the end of November.) With about 70 vendors, it’s a delight for the eyes and a culinary temptation for the stomach. Although I’ve been to farmer’s markets in Pittsburgh and to magnificent food vendor halls like Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia and the Westside Market in Cleveland, I’ve never been to an outside one as expansive and impressive as Holland’s.
The market runs from 8 AM to 4 PM and we arrived about quarter to eleven. The place was mobbed with people when we got there; I’m sure it had been like that since it opened and probably would stay like that until closing, especially on nice days like it was when we visited. For me, one of the “hardest” things about going to a place like the Holland Farmer’s Market was having to keep myself from purchasing everything (okay, maybe not the jerky-there were two jerky stands and while I’m sure it was better than your drug store variety, it’s still not my cup of tea).
I agree with people who wonder why you would ever shop at a supermarket for your produce when you can get it fresh from the farm by shopping at a farmer’s market. I immediately knew what I wanted as soon as I spotted the first vendor selling it-rhubarb. Although it certainly grows in the state of Pennsylvania, I had never seen it in such abundance as at the Holland Farmer’s Market. Multiple vendors were selling it-I bought a pound for $2.50 and the lady was proud to tell me that it was picked yesterday from her farm. My grandmother grows rhubarb in her yard and makes a delicious strawberry rhubarb pie from it. (I’ve since made strawberry rhubarb muffins which came out quite well.)
I know this is the time for them but I also loved seeing the vast array of flowers-not just fresh flowers to put in a vase but also flowers to plant in the ground and flowers in hanging baskets. As we were walking the length of the market people were strolling off with their gorgeous blooms that would undoubtedly beautify any outdoor space.
We ended up buying a spice rub from a place called Bearboy Gourmet that produces specialty rubs for meats and vegetables (well, really anything you want to add it to). The people manning the stand were incredibly nice (that goes for all of Holland’s denizens) and while I didn’t sample any (10:45 in the morning was too early to be trying a Southwestern one called Aztec), D did and we ended up getting a bottle of it for $7 (3 went for $20).
My favorite goodie that we walked away with was a loaf of bread from a bakery called The Original de Boer’s Bakkerji and Restaurant. The bread was a Cinnamon Swirl and honest to gosh, it tasted just like a Cinnabon (minus the disgustingly excessive amounts of frosting). We had it for breakfast all the next week, and one day at work a co-worker even commented on how good it smelled.
This was true for just about everything I saw in Holland, but that morning at the farmer’s market, the people were happy and the amicable air was infectious. Granted, it was a Saturday, not a work day (well, for most people), but it still wasn’t a mad dash scene for people to get their goods and be gone. People just enjoyed being out and I enjoyed it too.