Visit the Lively East Lansing Farmers' Market

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Monday, August 6, 2012, 7:52 pm
Alice Dreger

The East Lansing Farmers' Market is the hoppin' place to be every Sunday, 10 am - 2 pm. The market, in Valley Court Park (behind Crunchy's) features a wonderful array of locally-grown delights, including garlic, eggplant, tomatoes of many varieties, sweet corn, mint, Thai basil, runner beans, and even pumpkins (early!). You can get locally-baked sourdough, sweet bread, and garlic bread from Stone Circle, and delicious cheeses from Tirrell Farmstead Specialties.

My favorite place to stop first is Wildflower Eco Farms, owned and run by Phil Troop, a guy who looks like he regularly gets his hands in the dirt. Which he does. Phil started Wildflower Eco Farms with his son in Bath eleven years ago. Now his son is grown and Phil is holding up the operation on his own. He figures that, among the farmers at the East Lansing market, his is probably one of the closest farms, being less than 15 minutes away.

Phil runs the farm ecologically, which means he follows the principles of organic farming, although the farm is not officially certified. He grows 50 to 60 types of crops, including many varieties of garlic, herbs, apples, and Asian pears. His dark greens will take five years off your life, especially if you saute it up with his "Stinkin' Liz" garlic. (That's my non-FDA-approved health claim, not his.)

Humanely-raised meats and fresh eggs are also available every week at the market. Spartan Country Meats features cut-up and whole chickens raised locally, cage-free. The meat is of excellent quality. I like to take a big piece of heavy duty foil and wrap up tight a couple of bone-in chicken breasts with a bunch of garlic, tomatoes, little onions, zucchini, eggplant bits, and squash chunks, with herbs, and let it all cook together on the grill for about 45 minutes, sealed up. Heavenly! And super easy. Their chickens make the best soup, so I always put a few in the freezer before the season's end.

Lonesome Pines Beef is USDA certified and brings a refrigerated truck to the market each week, featuring grass-fed, humanely-raised beef raised in Nashville, Michigan (about an hour away). They've got great steaks, chop meat for burgers, and larger roasts good for family gatherings, as well as short ribs. Jerry Goddard, owner of Lonesome Pines, is always happy to take special butcher orders. He's also provides recipes on pre-printed cards. His beef is terrific, particularly when prepared with a variety of products available from two other market merchants, Son in Law (try their mustard-horseradish-garlic mix, absolutely fantastic on a nice steak) and Johnny Secreto's specialty spice blends and sauces.

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