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Rockford Farm Market business model hard to beat

Rockford Farm Market business model hard to beat

ROCKFORD, Mich.-- In recent years, two areas of growth in Michigan's economy have been microbreweries and farm markets.

But alas, too much of a good thing is often times counter-productive. It seems such is the case with farm markets, which have been sprouting like weeds all over the country. A pie can only be sliced so many ways and with adjoining communities each bringing their own farmers market to the table, it's unfortunately inevitable that only the strong will survive. 

Locally, Plainfield Township and Sparta both have farm markets that are struggling because of competition and operating expenses. They incur numerous costs, such as administration, an on-site market master and advertising.

The Plainfield-sponsored Farm Market, open two days a week, is in direct competition weekly with the powerhouse Rockford Farm Market a scant five miles away.

Berry season arrives: Find a U-pick location here

Berry season arrives: Find a U-pick location here

West Michigan growers are seeing high demand for berries this summer.

Many farmers have closed their fields for a couple days after visitors picked their plants clean.  The increasing demand also led to a shorter cherry season for some growers.  

Here's a list of some of the U-pick locations open in West Michigan this summer. Prices, fruit availability and hours vary daily, so it's best to call ahead before visiting any farm.


Ionia County


Bird Berry Farm

5256 Belding Rd. Belding, MI

(616) 794-5041

Blueberries $1.75 per pound

Patch picked out early Friday morning call back for update Wednesday, July 17



Kent County


North Ridge Berries

3555 20 Mile Rd. NW Kent City, MI

(616) 675-5919

Raspberries $3 per pound

Saving taxpayer money: Kent ISD consolidates printing services

Saving taxpayer money: Kent ISD consolidates printing services

Grand Rapids Community College and Kent ISD are combining printing services to save taxpayer money and streamline service to school districts and non-profit organizations.

The newly consolidated printing service is located on GRCC’s campus.  The partnership will save money by increasing the efficiency of the college print shop and eliminating the expense of staffing copy services at Kent ISD. 

“In recent years, we’ve continued to hear from our constituents and their elected representatives that we in the public sector should do more to collaborate and, where we can, operate like a business,” said Grand Rapids Community College President Steven Ender. “I’d like to think this is the type of collaboration they have in mind. This reduces costs for both institutions and increases efficiency at the same time.”

Still going strong, 'America's Favorite Farmers Market' adds new vendors

Still going strong, 'America's Favorite Farmers Market' adds new vendors

ROCKFORD, Mich.-- Voted "America's Favorite Farmers Market" in a 2011 nationwide contest, the Rockford Farm Market refuses to rest on its laurels. 

Always striving to better itself and add to the eclectic mix of locally grown and produced "Pure Michigan" foodstuffs, the market recently added two new vendors. 

When Farm Market matriarch Theona Gee of the 100-Acre Woods Honey Farm retired at the start of last year's farm market season, the market was left without a vendor of honey products. Gee, known as the "honey lady," was one of the market's original vendors and was beloved by honey aficionados, especially children who loved her honey sticks.

Enter this year. Working in partnership are "Uncle George's Honey" and "Christian Farms Honey Specialist." Both offer a full line of pure honey products, from honey sticks to bottled honey (various sizes) to honey combs and much, much more, including maple syrup.

Sam's Joint collectibles sell for thousands of dollars

Sam's Joint collectibles sell for thousands of dollars

ROCKFORD, Mich.—Collectibles and artifacts that once lined the Sam’s Joint in Rockford are now on their way to new homes.

More than 400 items owned by Sam Bravata were auctioned off by orbitbid.com this week.  A mounted suit of armor earned one of the top bids, selling for $1,041.  Other high priced items include a vintage Mobil Pegasus logo sign, which sold for $2,505; a vintage hand crafted wood harp made by JF Browne & Company, with a top bid of $1,156; and a 72-inch hand carved wood statue with lamp, which sold for $821.

Two more Sam’s Joint auctions are planned.  Items from the Lakeview facility will be auctioned off on orbitbid.com June 18; collectibles from the Kentwood restaurant will be up for bid on July 2.

Spring Parade of Homes sees record traffic

Spring Parade of Homes sees record traffic

The Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids says the 2013 Spring Parade of Homes is seeing record traffic.

The organization says more than 50,000 people have toured homes so far.  The Spring Parade of Homes runs through June 8.  Remodeled homes will be open for touring June 7 and June 8 from 1 p.m.

Sam's Joint auctions begin Tuesday, June 4

Sam's Joint auctions begin Tuesday, June 4

ROCKFORD, Mich.—Your chance to own a piece of Sam’s Joint starts tomorrow morning.

Orbitbid.com will begin auctioning off items from the restaurant at 8 a.m.  June 4.  The auction runs through 6 p.m.  A variety of vintage nautical pieces will be up for bid, as well as model airplanes and boats, suits of armor, vintage firearms and swords, vintage toys, trucks and pedal cars, art and sports memorabilia.  To view the items up for auction, click here.

Following the auction at the Rockford location, Sam Bravata will be selling off his personal collection from the Lakeview and Kentwood facilities through orbitbid.com.  The Lakeview auction will take place June 18; the Kentwood auction is July 2.

The Sam’s Joint locations in Plainwell, Gun Lake, Alaska, Coopersville and Norton Shores will remain open.