Although I do have a small garden, I rely on Michigan farmers to provide me with fresh produce to create my canning recipes. Each year I preserve upwards of 13 bushels of tomatoes. This is far too many to grow myself, so it’s essential that I have a reliable local source to achieve my canning endeavors. Could you imagine my excitement when a farm market opened within walking distance from my home? Let’s just say my daughter was quite impressed with my cartwheel—given my age!
Yes, I was beyond pleased when a well-known farm decided to bring back a family tradition by opening a fresh produce market. The Kropf Family Orchards located northeast of downtown Lowell is a centennial farm with deep roots in Michigan. For decades, the Kropf Family Orchards attributed heavily to the nations supply of apples and at one time was ranked top of the nations apple growers. In addition to apple growing, packing and shipping, in 1969 the Kropf’s opened a small seasonal market selling their apples roadside until the early 80’s. A fourth-generation family farm, the Kropf’s spent two years conceptualizing an updated spin on an earlier ideal. The family wanted to create a year-round venture to help offset their seasonal farming business. While a seasonal farmers market is great, it is just that—seasonal. So how do you offer more to the public and keep the doors open year ‘round? Four words: ice cream and food! It was with this addition the Red Barn Market was born.
The Red Barn Market boasts country charm, where patrons may enjoy a Hersey’s ice cream cone while they shop for fresh produce, have a light breakfast with their hot coffee or simply have one source to procure Michigan-made items such as honey, Charlie’s Chips, Bostwick Bakery donuts, The Canning Diva’s Canning Gel and hand-crafted yard art! In the evenings, delight in attending open mic-nights, a canning class or swing dancing! Just a sampling of the many happenings at the Red Barn Market.
One of the biggest benefits the Red Barn Market offers its patrons is a variety of Michigan-grown products. “We do our best to have a variety of produce on hand and make it a point to offer locally or state-grown items to our customers,” says market manager Barb Kropf-Roth. “Over the course of the next few weeks Michigan baking cherries will be available. Then we are onto other Michigan favorites like sweet cherries, sweet corn, tomatoes and peaches. In the fall will have farm-grown apples available starting with Paula Reds, Gala, Golden Delicious and Jonagold.” As a local resident, supporter of local business and a home canning educator, I am very excited to frequent the Red Barn Market to purchase fresh produce for recipes like Tomato Apple Chutney, Summer in a Jar and my Zesty Spaghetti Sauce! I look forward to teaching canning classes at the Red Barn Market, helping patrons learn a time-honored skill on a farm with over a century of Michigan growing history. To learn more about the Red Barn Market, canning classes and available fresh produce go to www.canningdiva.com or follow The Red Barn Market on Facebook.
By Diane Devereaux, The Canning Diva®