Tag Archives: Flint Farmers Market

FLINT: Farm Fresh………

16 Dec

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Each day signs and advertisements encourage us to “buy local” and “shop small” to support our community, city and state; the growing number of farmers; markets, maker fairs and small businesses are making it easier to do just that. Today we are in Flint MI visiting the new Farmers’ Market that opened downtown in June. The 32,000 sq ft, year-round, public market currently has about 50 vendors selling everything from fresh produce, meat and cheese to wine, Mexican groceries, coffee and baked goods. Housed in the former Flint Journal Printing Facility, businesses are open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; there’s a demonstration kitchen on the first floor and meeting rooms on the second level.

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Once downtown the market is easy to spot, large red letters rooftop act as a beacon to the building, the parking lot is busy with cars coming and going, an outdoor vendor is selling fresh evergreen wreaths, garlands and decorative pots. We find a space near the back, the side of an adjacent building is a cleverly painted mural of an overflow parking lot, vintage vehicles fill the few spaces, tail lights glow red, some even have real side-view mirrors, cool! We follow fellow shoppers inside, I immediately recognize the unique ‘market’ scent, that great mix of spices, food being cooked, coffee brewing, fresh fruit and vegetables, love it. To our left we find a Mexican and a Beirut market side by side, both sell grocery items and hot food, we pass through the atrium buzzing with activity and walk to the Art At The Market Gallery at the end of the hall. The space is long and narrow, framed photographs and paintings hang on the walls, clay pots, bowls and vases are handsomely displayed. Stained glass pieces glow under bright lights, metal art, furniture and jewelry are available in many different colors and designs.

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We head back to the main marketplace, rows and rows of food vendors tempt us with their offerings; cheese comes in full and half wheels, wedges and chunks, colors vary from white to yellow even green and blue. The milk comes from cows, goats and sheep. Piles of cabbage, hard squash and sweet potatoes fill a booth, Crust from Fenton is selling loaves of white, rye and challah bread along with onion rolls, cookies and brownies; I purchase a loaf of the Saskatoon Prairie Seed, it’s our favorite. Over at Charlies’ Smokin’ Bar-B-Q a line has formed, sure smells good….. Across the aisle fresh greens wait to be tossed into a salad, next to that you can buy gourmet popcorn, there’s handcrafted soaps, pasties, cheesecake, donuts and chicken salad. Mc Carrons Orchards has more than a dozen varieties of apples, at Bagels & Beans you can purchase a bagel as big as your head. At another produce stand brussel sprouts still cling to their stalks, grapefruit and oranges perfume the air.

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We browse the many aisles, weaving in and out, free samples abound, everywhere you look people are eating, ok, enough, time for lunch! There are many places to grab a snack or a meal, after walking around the whole place we choose Sweet Peaces; tucked into a tiny little spot, there is only room for 3 tables, you can also get food to go and eat in the large atrium area. The menu is completely plant-based and vegan. We order at the counter and are rewarded quickly with our lunch. The samosa is an Indian pastry filled with potatoes, peas and spices, it’s very good. The Mo-Mos are Nepalese steamed dumplings filled with cabbage, carrot, onion and spices, served with a sesame ginger sauce, very tasty. The special of the day is an Indian vegetable curry with butternut squash and pumpkin, really delicious, spicy but not too hot. Now we’re ready to shop again.

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Across the way is d’vine Wines, remember to look down at the cork floor. In addition to selling tons of Michigan wines they also sell varieties from Spain, France, Italy, Australia, South America and New Zealand; they also feature wine from California, Oregon and Washington, in addition to wine accessories like glasses, corkscrews and the like. The Local Grocer is a collaboration of businesses selling locally grown produce and grocery items such as flour from Westwind Milling Co, popcorn kernels from Bur Oaks and roasted soybean nuggets from Rabble Roasters; we pick up a few things for home. Time for coffee…… I saw a sign at Hot Cups for an Eggnog Latte, they even use eggnog from Calder Dairy, that I can’t resist. Kris gets an iced coffee, we have a seat in the atrium and relax as we drink out beverages, now that hits the spot!

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Driving around downtown earlier we noticed a sign in front of the Masonic Temple for a holiday market by Flint Handmade, let’s go! We score a spot on the street right in front of the building, built in 1911 it’s a Flint landmark. Inside, the building is intriguing, the market is happening right here on the first floor in the auditorium, the shopping begins…. The room is simple, understated, what a cool place to hold an event like this; tables are arranged into wide aisles, successful shoppers are loaded down with bags, the holiday spirit is palpable. We meander past baskets filled with goofy felt characters, some have bright pink hair others sport multiple eyes, any child would love one. Hand-dyed scarves, bags, hats and gloves fill a table; they are lovely, Flint Handmade is selling t-shirts. There are several jewelry booths; wire-wrapped pendants hang on long chains, one artist sells nothing but rings. My favorite are the pieces made from old watch parts and scrap pieces; gears, hands and faces are reconfigured and made into stylish earrings and necklaces, they’re gorgeous in an industrial way. Some artists create unique, decorative objects from discarded items, they call it upcycling, I like it.

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Out in the lobby I ask if it’s possible to look around the building, we are given a tour and a chance to explore the place—- awesome. We ride the elevator up to the top floor (#3) and exit into rooms decorated in red, banquet tables are set up in one area, a wide white molding surrounds the stage, the Boardroom is stunning; heavy wood panels cover the walls, the fireplace is gorgeous, light fixtures throughout are simple stainless steel. The history of the local Masons is found in photographs, in cabinets filled with medals and cases loaded with memorabilia; it’s truly fascinating stuff. The next floor down decorated in blue, is home to the main auditorium. The room has almost a medieval feel to it; raked seating on each side gives everyone a clear view, free-standing columns flank the entryway, one is topped with an antique-looking globe, the architecture screams Masonic artistry. We encounter antique ornamental chairs, showcases with trophy’s and an elegant sword. Beautiful bookcases reside on the mezzanine level. 

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This building has housed lodges including Flint 23, Fellowship 490, Shriners, York Rite, Scottish Rite and other Masonic bodies that devote themselves to charitable works that benefit the Flint community. It is said the Free Masonary is likely the world’s oldest fraternity dating from medieval times. There’s some amazing history here! We’ve had a great day here in Flint, seems new things are popping up all the time; it’s good to see some of the old ones have stood the test of time.

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Daytrip: Flint

18 Mar

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I have always had a soft spot for the underdog, which is part of the reason I like  Flint. The city has more going for it than you may have imagined; Great museums, delicious food, and a fascinating history. Don’t look now but downtown is starting to make a comeback too! Did you know the first completed production Corvette rolled off the Flint assembly line in 1953? It was one of 300 hand-assembled ‘Vettes made that year. The 1950’s and 60’s  were the height of the city’s  prosperity and population. The economic and industrial struggles the nation faced through the years were even more magnified in this auto producing town. Today you will find new life in long standing neighborhoods and institutions, and a breath of fresh air sweeping into the city.

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It has been a while since we were at a farmers market; the sky was clear and blue, the sun was shining, what better time to drive out to the Flint Farmers Market?This year-round public building was built in 1940 by WPA workers, it has been a vital part of the community ever since. During the summer there are all sorts of vendors outdoors, this time of year it is mostly contained indoors. As you would expect you’ll find produce, meat, poultry, breads and baked goods. I love the initial scent as I walk into a market, it’s always a wonderful mix of aromas! The building is laid out in one long aisle from end to end, a wine shop caps off one of the ends. d’vine Wines has a generous variety of wines both local and international, along with beer and even dairy items from the ever popular Calder Dairy. 

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We strolled the main aisle, up one side and down the other; spices, jams, dips and cut fruit all available to sample. Ethnic groceries, cool looking sea salt, deli sandwiches fresh cider mill style donuts and hot coffee all beckon to be purchased. The cheese vendor has an especially large variety to choose from, Kris picked one out and we got a chunk to eat while we walked. Upstairs is home to an art gallery; jewelry, ceramics, photographs, and paintings fill the display. Across the hall is a restaurant called Steady Eddy’s Cafe, this place is always packed, today was no exception. Serving breakfast and lunch the menu leans towards vegetarian and vegan selections, they also have homemade soups daily. Satisfied with our market stop it was time to move on.

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If you’ve never been to the Flint Institute of Arts, put it on your to-do list, this is a terrific museum. The museum itself is 150,000 sq ft with 25,000 sq ft of gallery space. The building also houses a cafe, gift shop, art school, library and theater. We were there on a Target Free Saturday, so there was no admission fee; good to keep in mind. We have been here many times and still my favorite space is the Viola E Bray Renaissance Gallery, it is superb! The gallery itself was built for a single purpose: to display the 60 Renaissance and Baroque items donated by Mrs. Bray. The most exquisite being a collection of  10 tapestries made in France in the 17th Century. The tapestries represent the legend of Rinaldo and Armida as told in Jerusalem Delivered, a poem by Torquato Tasso. One of the gallery volunteers told us  that it is quite unusual for anyone to hold a complete set of tapestries. Not only did Mrs Bray donate the items, she also donated the money to build the gallery; it is elegant, ornate, magnificent. Floors are marble, the ceiling coffered, reflecting true renaissance style. The tapestries themselves are made of wool and silk, take a close look; the borders are filled with symbols such as laurel wreaths, Mercury, Urania, Justice and Victory; the detail is awe-inspiring.  Don’t miss the Decorative Arts Gallery, they have a sensational collection of glass paperweights. With the recent expansion the layout guides you easily from gallery to gallery; painted in bold colors such as berry, Celadon and bright yellow, the artwork really stands out. You could easily pass a couple of hours traversing the space.

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On the drive up we had decided to have lunch at Hoffman’s Deco Deli located inside the Carriage Town Antique Center. First we would eat, then we would browse. Being a deli they have a wide variety of sandwiches to choose from along with wraps, salads and gourmet coffee. A large chalk board hangs on the wall; Items are written in colored chalk giving a full description. We picked the Super Veggie sandwich on whole grain bread, the Farmers Market Salad and a side of the southwest barley salad. Place your order at the counter then take a seat at one of the tables in the dining room or a high-top by the window. The building itself is a restored Art Deco warehouse, the interior of the deli is decorated with funky objects, it’s always fun to look around. Our lunch arrived quickly, which was good because we were really hungry. Everything looked so good we didn’t know where to start! The sandwich was stacked high with avocado spread, feta, sprouts, onion, jalapeno, bell pepper, cucumber, leaf lettuce and tomato with a bit of veggie seasoning, delicious. The salad is a bit unusual in that a drizzle of BBQ sauce serves as the dressing; it works well with the other ingredients such as chicken and crumbled bacon, definitely a winner. The barley salad added  a bit of spice to the meal and was a nice change from pasta salad.When we’d had our fill we walked through to the antique center of the building, the pieces here are in good condition. Items run the gamut from antique china cabinets, loads of colored glass and pottery to vintage clothing, period lighting and Christmas items on the second floor. There are shelves and glass cases filled with beautiful items from days gone by. Vintage collectibles rest side by side with period furniture, heirloom jewelry and an antique organ. It’s a great shop with an ever-changing inventory. 

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We enjoyed the time we spent in Flint, there are many more things to see and do, but they will have to wait until next time. If you’re looking for a change of pace give Flint a try, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.