You have many reasons to know and love Zingerman’s Roadhouse. There is the barbeque, with the amazing smelling smoke that gets your stomach growling. Beef and pork that are home grown and butchered in our kitchen. Spectacular dishes featuring Cornman Farms vegetables delivered by friendly knowledgeable waitstaff. But do you know that our passion for really great local food extends to hosting the Westside Farmers’ Market in the parking lot of the Roadhouse every Thursday? The market begins at 3pm and ends at 7pm starting in June and wrapping up at the end of September.
The Westside Farmers’ Market (WSFM) has eighteen produce vendors, five of which offer CSAs. A CSA, (Community Supported Agriculture), is a yearlong commitment that entitles you to a specific poundage of farm product every week. It’s a really great way to eat like you have a garden even if you don’t have the time and space. Many of the pickups have interesting produce such as kohlrabi and garlic scapes, and some of the farmers are even kind enough to include educational material with recipes. Many of our farmers grow gorgeous heirloom varietals of the “classic” vegetables such as kale, beets, and potatoes. Of course the sunshine, open air, and smiling faces are a large portion of the good feeling one gets walking through a farmers’ market; but the product itself is pretty exciting to check out. The Westside Farmers’ Market is a producer only market, so you can get the story behind every item sold at the market; and the farmers’ get pretty excited to let you in on the details.
Vegetables aren’t the whole story at WSFM. We have some really great livestock farmers as well. You can order a pig from Blue Egg Farm (they grow a rare, extra tasty for slow cooking, breed known as Black Mule Foot), pick up a whole Turkey from Harnois Farm, or get just about any size of cut of beef, pork, lamb, and chicken from Ernst Farm. Joan Ernst also sells some really nice stone-ground grains. Corridor Sausage makes amazing artisanal sausages, and The Brinery buddies up right next to him at market so you can match your adventurous sausage flavor to your interesting sauerkraut.
Walking through the market under the sun tends to work up an appetite, and we have lots of snacks. Pilar’s Tamales, Good Times Kettle Corn, San Street Asian Buns, Papa Tom’s Cajun Boiled P-nuts, are all here to stave off that rumbling tummy until you can pop in the Roadhouse for a drink and dinner. Bread and pastries are available from Stonehearth Bakery and Zingerman’s Bakehouse; and Zingerman’s Creamery is here as well for some really nice toppings for the bread. If you are a knitter, Clare Limerick brings really beautiful wool from their Alpaca farm. Additionally we have blown glass from Diane Sheffrey of Baubles with really nice decorations for your table or garden. And if you need to decorate yourself Nancy Melet has remarkable hand-linked silver jewelry.
The Westside Farmers’ Market strives to be a positive influence on the local community. We run four food assistance programs, including Bridge Cards and Double Up Food Bucks that actually matches up to twenty dollars of government assistance for the express purpose of getting fresh fruits and vegetables on hungry peoples’ tables. Furthermore, it supports local farmers because the match dollars can only be spent on Michigan produce. Of course that is every farmer at WSFM, so we think Double Up Food Bucks is pretty amazing for funneling donated money to two groups of people who can use the support. Washtenaw County Department for health comes to market to provide education on healthy eating to Bridge Card users. Homegrown Festival uses the market to reach out to the public about the myriad of benefits to eating from our own foodshed. Food Gatherers collects donated produce from vendors at the end of each market day.
So the next time you are dreading the grocery store, get a little sun instead and shop at the Westside Farmers’ Market in a friendly festival like atmosphere ….