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Jul 11, 2008 03:23 PM

SE Michigan summer fruit markets

Michigan postings have been kind of quiet lately, so here's a question. Whatever the strengths and weaknesses of Detroit-area food, I wouldn't trade Michigan summer Red Haven peaches for anything. Where do you find the absolute best local summer fruit? I think you can do very well at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market but am curious to hear of other places. I think Eastern Market in Detroit is better for rock-bottom prices than for really top-quality stuff, but maybe I just don't know what booths to hit.

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  1. The Eastern Market is my last stop for Michigan products and the prices are rarely "rock bottom". More often than not the imported fruits and veggies there are more $$ than most of the fruit markets in my area but it depends on the day and season etc.
    The Royal Oak farmers market and The Rochester Hills farmers market are my top picks. Otto's chicken at the RO market alone is worth the trip. Antibiotic and steroid free for less than most grocery stores. Quality is excellent.

    25 Replies
    1. re: Docsknotinn

      Went to Rochester farmers market today and there was so much to chose from. The selection was much better than last week...a lot of vendors were missing probably due to the holiday. This year Maple Creek organic didn't come back, but there are two new organic farms represented and both are from Brown City. Neither are really big but they do have potential. It was a great day to be there. I also enjoy going up to the Flint Farmers Market and I read that they are even open on Sunday this year.

      1. re: Docsknotinn

        I was at the RO market this morning. Blackberries and Red rasperries and the first of Michigan cherries were the fruits available - obviously the quantity of veggies is increasing - Maple Creek organic is there weekly. Sadly, Otto's had a sign that they were no longer going to be selling at the RO market and next week is their last week. Plan ahead to stock up!

        Has anyone been to the Birmingham farmers market? I like that its a Sunday option.

        1. re: Ludlows23

          OH NO! Otto's is leaving. :( Does any one know if you can buy directly at the farm or where they are going to sell in the future? Thanks for the heads up Ludlows!
          I have been to the Birmingham market but it was opening weekend. It was more artsy craftsy than farmers market and the food that was there was really expensive. Not much of a shocker for B'ham. It is nice that it's on Sunday and it's a great place for a morning walk. I would give it another try.
          There's one in Armada that's open Sundays as well. It's about 50% flea market but in season they have plenty of local farmers there. Just East of town. The up side is the drive in country through the apple orchards and you can stop at the origional Achatz (just N of town) for some pie.

          1. re: Docsknotinn

            Doc, I saw the sign at Otto's too and was going to post that news--Ludlows beat me to it! There was a huge line of people when I was there (taking shelter from the deluge) so I didn't get to ask why they are leaving RO.

            While searching for an Otto's website, I came across the website for a publication called Edible Wow. Interesting reading.
            Got our first green beans and cucumbers of the year!!

            1. re: coney with everything

              Did any one happen to make it back to the market this week to find out where Otto's will be in the future?
              The Rochester market was full of goodies today. Fresh berries and I even copped a home made sour cream pound cake. :)

              1. re: Docsknotinn

                Docksnotinn, did you buy the berries from the big guy on the corner? I went looking for the lady, I think from Miller's, she wasn't there and her raspberries were fabulous last week. I ended up buying from him, but I'm not always sure his stuff is local. To me it seemed to be a little empty this week....I was there at 8:30, so maybe some other vendors showed up later. The lady selling the sour cream bundt cakes told me that they are opening a restaurant on Main that will have their own greenhouse to grow organic produce, out back. Sounds good to me!

                1. re: grouper

                  I completely agree with you about the guy on the corner---seems fishy to me, like his stuff is imported from somewhere. Too many fresh tomatoes all the time.

                  What are your favorite Rochester vendors? I love Sharkar Farms--my favorite eggs and produce by far. I love that little organic baked goods stand, though--the peanut butter cookies are amazing, and I can't wait to see their restaurant!

                  1. re: IndyGirl

                    Yes, we are talking about the largest vendor in the middle. Some of his stuff looks too perfect for local/homegrown. The vendor to the west of him said his tomatoes wouldn't be in for a few weeks, but had some from the s.w. side of the state and they used a method called "tunneling" to protect the plants and extend the growing season. Are peaches from MI in yet? The big guy was selling peaches that they said were from Kalamazoo, didn't know if that was true. Right now my favorite vendor is a new stand on the east side, by the organic baking lady, it's two women who sell organic produce. Not a big stand, but their stuff is nice. I have had sugary sweet peas from them for two weeks now and got a nice head of bibb lettuce yesterday. For me they have replaced Maple Creek farms who are not selling at Rochester this year. Fine with me as last year I had a share at Maple Creek and sometimes they would have better and different produce at the market, which really used to irk me.
                    My favorite tomato people haven't shown up yet, they are across from the big that noticeably empty spot yesterday.
                    IndyGirl, is Sharkar Farms across from the pasta lady? If so, I do buy a lot from them, too.

                    1. re: grouper

                      The vendor I bought the tomatos from said they were grown by tunneling as well. I buy often from the other fendor to the West. The Romeo peach fest is over the holiday at the end of August. I would think it's still a little early still. I agree I have my doubts about the big guy. It seems like they are "supplimenting" to some degree. Their prices are high as well.
                      The organic stand by the bakery was mobbed when I was there so I skipped it. I'll check them out next time.
                      I know the people you are talking about that come later in the season that occupy the empty spot. Good stuff there.

                      1. re: grouper

                        Yes, Sharkar farms is the large booth with the two adorable little kids (one boy and one girl) and the friendly guy. They have the best eggs by far.

                        1. re: IndyGirl

                          Indy & Docs, what is your opinion of the Great Harvest Bread stand at the market? I really feel that while they are independent business owners they are also part of a large franchise and don't belong at a farmers market where we are trying to support the locals. BTW, I always buy a loaf of the cinnamon bread from the local guy that has all of the bread.

                          1. re: grouper

                            I never buy bread there. The Give thanks bakery is less than two blocks away and has incredible artisinal bread. I also noticed there is a vendor re-selling Williams cheese and other items that I thought was rather odd.
                            I was always under the impression in the past that wasn't allowed but the market seems to have changed it's rules.

                            1. re: Docsknotinn

                              I am actually pretty new to the area and have never been to the Give Thanks bakery...thanks for the recommendation there.

                              I saw that Williams vendor and sampled some cheese. Can someone tell me what is going on with them? I don't eat meat so I didn't try any of that. What is Williams cheese? Were those people not really involved in making it?

                              What about those gnocchi people? Tracina, I think is the name? Is that good? The truffle gnocchi sounded tempting but I resisted. The woman told me they also deliver.

                              1. re: IndyGirl

                                The vendor at the market was not from Williams so no they were not involved with making some of the products they are selling. They also had Amish roll butter which is a nice product but IMO it has no place at this market. They are just buying other peoples products then re-selling them as far as I know but I did not speak to them. It is wise to question the origin of the produce as well. At markets, I question every thing. ;)
                                Williams cheese in Pinconning is a popular Michigan product. If you ever drive up to Birch Run to shop the outlet mall (the Chef's outlet is great for calphalon deals) or go to Frankenmuth then it's well worth the drive to go a little further north to Pinconning and pick up some cheese.
                                The Give Thanks Bakery is a little hard to find because it does not face Main street but rather an alley behind Main street. When you are at the market head uphill towards main. Cross main. If you are walking turn left at the alley. If driving cross main, turn left at the first stop sign and park at the first lot on the left.
                                On the subject of tunneling tomatos my wife was reading an article yesterday and it mentioned a farm in MI that begins tunneling tomatos in February!



                                1. re: Docsknotinn

                                  Wow, I will definitely look for Give Thanks this weekend. Thank you!!

                                2. re: IndyGirl

                                  Second the recommendation for Give Thanks. Bread and desserts are fantastic! As docs implies, it's a bit tough to find but it's worth looking!

                                  1. re: coney with everything

                                    For those living in the city of Detroit or there on a regular basis, I believe many of the pastries at Zaccaro's grocery come from Give Thanks. The ones I've had have been great.

                              2. re: grouper

                                I have never bought anything from Great Harvest, and also didn't know they were part of a franchise. Their stuff has honestly never looked all that good to me. Now that I know they're a franchise I'll avoid them--I agree that the point here is to support local growers/artisans.

                                1. re: IndyGirl

                                  I asked where the local Great Harvest was located and they told me over on John R, I think. Anyway, I just don't think they belong there. As for the woman with Williams cheese, I just avoid her she sells frozen meat which we don't eat. The other guy who sells the other breads is good and I think he's located just north on Rochester Rd. I would also give a thumbs up for Give Thanks.

                                  Coconuts, after seeing the Maple Creek produce last year I decided not to renew my share this year. Did you know they give you a discount if you are a share owner? I just didn't like having to buy more stuff from them that I didn't get in my share.

                                  1. re: grouper

                                    I did know that, but I feel the same way. They weren't warm fuzzy people to us before the season started anyway (we didn't know about the discount then), so I would much rather support someone else.

                                    I do love the meat from TMZ and the mushroom people (although the last morels we bought had more worms than the broccoli in our share this week).

                                    1. re: grouper

                                      Another big thumbs up to Give Thanks Bakery. I try to make the Rochester farmer's market most Saturdays after picking up a loaf of North Country or levain at Give Thanks. Their baked goods are also wonderful IMHO because they are not overly sweet. One of the only muffins and breakfast pastries I've had in the U.S. that weren't sickly sweet. You can actually taste the flavors of the muffins, cookies and almond croissants. I'm making myself hungry now. :-)

                              3. re: grouper

                                Well, this was timely for me- we were at RO yesterday, and had the same experience with Maple Creek having better looking and more varied produce than we received.

                                Unfortunately we didn't see that Otto's was leaving!

                                1. re: grouper

                                  The split-stone cling peaches from SW Michigan have been around for a couple of weeks. Tuesday I bought some luscious freestone peaches in a Chicago farmers market from a grower in Berrien County who does not play any games, so there may well be some ripe peaches farther east. The SW Michigan fruit started off a little slow this year, but then the season really compressed. Do not go by rules of thumb for Michigan fruit ripening this year as you may miss what you want.

                                  1. re: Eldon Kreider

                                    Thanks for the input! Maybe I'll try some this weekend at the market.

                              4. re: grouper

                                Are you talking about the vendor on the end near the hot dog truck? Or the largest vendor with the physically rotund guy That was kind of in the middle? That's where I got the berries. They are from up near Capac. I bought maters there as well but very $$$ although I had to have them yesterday. They claim to start their tomatos a month earlier than many others using a visqueen (sp?) tenting system. Yesterday they had smaller beef Steaks and early girls. The tomatos were indeed beef steaks and not hot house tomatos although it did catch my eye that they were working out of older commercial boxes.
                                The bundt cake was wicked good. I wonder if they are going into the purple building on the corner of Main that used to be Bellisima (?). It's all gutted right now down to the walls and windows. I wish them well. It sounds like a great concept but things come and go so fast in rochester.
                                The market did seem slower yesterday but I was pleased with the quality of what was there.
                                Is Sharkar farms the one tucked in the SE corner?

                    2. We are big fans of U picks. Spicers Orchard at US23 just north of M59 is good for strawberries, cherries...just about everything through apple/pumpkin season, except peaches. I wouldn't want to do it for a living but it's fun and you definitely end up with better fruit when you pick your own, and cheaper (although obviously the gas is a bigger factor now). But it's a nice drive in the country so that counts for something.

                      I like the RO Farmer's Market for just about everything else, or for when we don't feel like driving to a farm. In fact, it's just about time to head over there...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: coney with everything

                        I haven't been to spicers in a long time. I'm on the north side now so the Orchards I tend to visit are in Armada and Romeo. Blakes, Westview etc. Sadly over the last several years this area has lost a lot of orchards to development. The peach festival is Labor day weekend for all you peach fans.

                      2. I agree that the AA Farmer's market is always a good place to get a wide selection of local fruit. I also like the u-pick farms because they are always a fun place to go where one can pick their own fruit or buy freshly picked fruit direct from the farmer. Wasem's Fruit Market in Milan had some nice red and black currants and gooseberries along with delicious tart cherries this past week. They even have some low-branch trees that are full of cherries - so small pickers like me didn't have to use their ladders. I believe they sill have u-pick cherries for the next few days.

                        This week, Whole Foods in Ann Arbor had some Michigan sweet cherries that were the biggest, juiciest cherries I had eaten in a long time ($3.99/lb). I think Hiller's also does a fairly good job of carrying local fruit like blueberries and raspberries and produce like rhubarb and tomatoes in the summertime. Four Seasons Market and Bello Vino are a couple of other places I find local fruit. People's Food Coop is another place that comes to mind.

                        I've found the site: to have a very convenient search tool to find local food.

                        Red Haven peaches are great indeed. I hope I can find a place that has u-pick peaches this summer. A lot of places I've contacted had their peach/sweet cherry crop diminished by the hail storms this year.



                        1. The Ann Arbor Farmer's Market was loaded with fruit today. I bought huckleberries (a first for me, although I remember them from childhood); raspberries; blueberries; and sugar plums. The market also had peaches and apricots.

                          Ann Arbor also has a couple of terrific places to buy fruit: the Produce Staiton, which gets its fruit both from local farms and from the Benton Harbor Fruit Market, and Bella Vino, which I just found out has its own farm. Today, they were selling Michigan blueberries for $5.99 a quart, versus $7 at the Farmers Market. Although I like to support the farmers, BV is a local enterprise, so I'm happy to buy from them and save a little money.

                          Eastern Market does not have rock bottom prices, and you need to remember it is a terminal market. That means that fruit is shipped there and cooled for transport. You might not be buying local produce. Unless you have a vendor that you like, I don't think it's worth the gas money to make the trek downtown.

                          1. No one has mentioned the Pontiac Farmers Mkt. Have been going there for years, Tues, Thurs, and Sat. Just north of Summit Mall, west of Telegraph. A little Oriental (Asian, Occidental, PC?)sold me some great peas in the shell 2 weeks ago, chomped one whole to show me they were sweet, and said she would have squash blossoms soon. Plan to buy some tomorrow.