Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Farm to table

Some of the East Lansing Farmer's Market vendors have Spartan roots

September 23, 2014

On Sunday mornings from June through October, Valley Court Park fills with farmers ready to sell a variety of products created through hard labor. Live music floats throughout the open air as families, often accompanied by their dogs, weave through the customers and around the stands of vendors.

MSU alumna Abby Rudnicki, first year market manager for the East Lansing Farmer’s Market and community events assistant for the city of East Lansing, said she is very humbled to be a part of the weekly setup.

“This is going to sound super cheesy, but (my favorite part of the market is) the sunrise and setup,” Rudnicki said. “(I enjoy) watching the bustle between vendors, seeing everything laid out perfectly before customers show up, (and) all the colors and smells. It’s soothing.”

Rudnicki said the East Lansing Farmer’s Market is the only market in the lower peninsula of Michigan where everything is planted, grown and sold by 24 different vendors.

The market, with its location close to campus, attracts MSU students. This especially held true on Sunday, Sept. 21 where the first 125 MSU students to come to the market that day could flash their ID and get $2 off any item.

Senior kinesiology students Megan Mallgren and Annie Bryers both wait with anticipation for the market every week and have been attending since June. The market is a main source of food for them since they said they like to consume substances that isn’t loaded with carcinogens.

“We look forward to it on Sunday mornings,” Mallgren said with a chuckle. “I set my alarm and it says ‘go to the farmer’s market.’”

Meat

Every day, Christine Miller drives out to her farm, passing rolling fields to a picturesque red barn awaiting her in secluded and rural Webberville, Mich.

Walking into the barn, she is greeted by a stampede of animals.

Spartan Country Meats, Miller’s farm, drew its name from Miller’s Spartan heritage — she graduated in 2000 with her master’s degree in animal science.

Miller, who grew up on a sheep farm, learned from an early age not to grow attached to any of the future meat animals, but does know how to maintain a healthy relationship with them.

Miller said she takes pride in how her meat is processed all-naturally as opposed to big name companies that load the animals full of chemicals.

Miller raises chickens, rabbits, pigs and turkeys to be processed at her own licensed facility on the farm. The animals do not receive any hormones or antibiotics and are fed square meals of grass, water and grain with no animal byproducts.

“A lot of people in the Lansing area appreciate knowing where the food comes from, and how it’s raised, and the processes it goes through from going to a live animal to meat,” Miller said.

Granola

Forced to balance her time between being a mom and her business, Sara Beer bakes her granola at her East Lansing home whenever she encounters a pause in her hectic weeks.

Beer’s business, Spoonful of Granola, stemmed from a love for baking and a need to create a healthy snack.

The granola originally started as a healthy option for her father who didn’t always make wise snacking decisions. Five years ago, her casual baking took a turn when her father encouraged her to begin selling her granola.

Beer is constantly incorporating new flavors to keep her customers on their toes. They include hit fall flavors such as pumpkin spice and apple walnut. The procedure of making granola is a long, tedious baking process of mixing, baking, and cooling that can consume more than 15-20 hours in one week.

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All of the granola is completely made from scratch, from uncooked oats to raw nuts.

Above all, Beer loves the convenience that cooking at home gives her, so she can spend time with her kids.

“I can do what I love to do and still stay home with my family,” Beer said with a smile.

Vegetables

From the time she opens her eyes to the time she closes them, Rebecca Titus works to ensure that people receive farm fresh food.

Titus Farms in Leslie, Mich., has been family run by Paul and Rose Titus and their daughter Rebecca since 1982.

While she was pregnant with her daughter, Rose realized she was hypersensitive to chemicals found on produce, which encouraged their farm in the direction of natural growing methods.

Growing alongside her parents’ crops, MSU alumna Rebecca Titus became accustomed to the world of farming at a young age. Titus attended MSU and graduated with her master’s degree in horticulture in 2008.

Although it grows almost every type of produce that can be grown in Michigan, Titus Farms specializes in vegetables with a wide assortment of over 50 different kinds. They also have fruit, including raspberries and strawberries, and fresh cut flowers such as sunflowers.

The farm runs year-round in a never-ending cycle of planting seeds in flats during the month of March, harvesting plants in the summer and fall months, and storing the excess in passive solar hoop houses in the winter.

Titus was one of the people involved in the creation of the East Lansing Farmer’s Market six years ago.

“This farmer’s market is the reincarnation actually of an old farmer’s market that I went to when I was 6 years old,” Titus said.

Farming isn’t all work, no play for Titus. It’s something that is a passion for her.

“I love really early in the morning (on the farm) when there’s still dew on the plants and the sun is reflecting off it,” Titus said.

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