In the tiny town of Douglas, Michigan is the produce stand of a new era. A little square painted brick building sits close to the Bluestar Highway. Umbrellas to one side shade a tidy assortment of fruits, herbs and vegetables; an iron basket of pea pods, a couple dozen perfectly ripe specimen tomatoes, a bushel of green beans, some onions, Michigan blueberries pre measured into two-pound clear plastic bags and tin urns filled with fresh flowers. Small chalkboard signs are propped against each display giving the price and, equally important at this market, the distance the product traveled to come to market; for all produce at this market was grown within a 30-mile radius. And all consumables sold here are part of the still elite but broader social class-- “made in Michigan.” This eclectic assortment includes a freezer of gelato and meats, Seedy Salt Bread, relishes, chocolate covered cherries and Michigan’s newest star Boxed Water® sold in white cartons with black type professing “boxed water is better.”
Summertime Market seems more host of a celebration than a merchant. Celebrating the delights of what’s grown right here, the owners respectively clean and artistically display the bounty, the shoppers are jubilant with the showing.
Step inside to an impeccable, tidy environment, cooled sensually by an enormous industrial steel fan that nearly covers the entire ceiling of the tiny building. The air is fragrant with the produce. Around the perimeter are highly polished farm tables displaying the produce, which is contained in iron baskets and cornucopias. There are many kinds of radishes and exotic looking onions. Red, white and blue potatoes. Nothing is overcrowded; each item calls out to you to be tried, each looking its prettiest and freshest.
A glass front refrigerator holds arugula and assorted lettuces in dark baskets (somewhat reminding me of a florist’s refrigerator with a variety of tender roses), plus neat stacks of chevre and sausage rolls, and neat lines of boxed water, San Pellegrino and a few small bottles of Coke. Or, if you please, you can help yourself to a cone-shaped paper cup and pour a drink from the ornate urn with fitted gold dispenser that contains water, chunks of ice and floating cucumber slices. As you sip and pay your bill you will surely be tempted to buy cuttings of oregano arranged in glass jar. The shopkeeper tells us to come back tomorrow; they will have lamb. That is two animals locally raised and organically fed that will be sold in the form of chops, cutlets and patties. Last week the lamb offering sold out in three hours so come early they say.
You leave with your nicely wrapped produce feeling energized and renewed, happy to have so pleased your senses, grateful to be a part, for a moment, of a community that so values the experience of growing and eating fruits and vegetables and herbs. This is like no farm stand I’ve experienced. Unfortunately, only those who live in or visit this blissful little community know such an experience. Ah, Summertime. Good Luck on this very worthy venture.