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The Romence Family Legacy

The Romence Family Legacy

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Who says that chilly weather means you have to stop enjoying blossoming flowers, veggies and herbs?

Not the Romence family.

Romence Gardens and Greenhouses is open year-round, bringing baskets of flowers and produce to the Grand Rapids community no matter the season. The independent garden center proudly grows a wide array of annuals, perennials, hanging plants, vegetables, herbs, and indoor plants. During the holidays, arrangements of wreaths, poinsettias, and festive trees deck the greenhouse halls. Even a quick stroll around the center will reveal the vast varieties held under Romence’s roof. Not to mention to all the other fun stuff: Beautiful pottery, statuary, and garden décor is dotted throughout the center, along with an ice-cream counter and hand-made jewelry.

Community members have trusted the Romence’s expertise on plants for three generations - ever since it was started by brothers Louis and Art in 1933. Lou and Art began by selling lettuce and tomatoes in the Great Depression era, providing gardening jobs to local workers. Fast forward a generation, and Louis’s son, Bill Romence, is the current owner. His children, Chris and Katey, oversee retail and management. Katey Romence puts the garden center family affair this way, “You can’t walk ten feet without seeing a Romence.”

Business savvy has become a Romence family legacy, but flowers and produce remain at the heart of what they do. Hoping to make West Michigan truly flourish, the center actively invests in understanding the needs and desires of its local community as a way to benefit the business while simultaneously benefiting the community. One way they are doing this is through their prospective Winter Market. Romence has a vision for an indoor winter farmers market to compliment the already-successful spring/summer/fall markets offered throughout West Michigan. They hope that once the Winter Market takes off, it will enhance the market experience of the local community with produce, baked goods, and fresh-cut flowers despite the snow and ice.

You can stop by Romence any time for beautiful flowers and plants. If you’ve taken the 10x10 Pledge (or if you are interested in taking it), use this week’s $10 to buy a Romence plant to grow your own veggies. You can even try the recipe for Cookie and Kate’s Chopped Kale Salad below.

Fork Fest, Local First’s annual harvest celebration, will be another opportunity to find a banquet of local food at Romence. On October 23, the gardens and greenhouses will play host to this delicious event. Over 40 local food businesses will be there to share their incredible fall fare. Don’t miss it! Buy your tickets here.


Cookie and Kate's Chopped Kale Salad



1 bunch kale (preferably lacinato/Tuscan/dinosaur kale but regular curly kale works, too)

fine-grain sea salt

1 cup chopped snow peas (slice off tough ends first)

1 large carrot, peeled and ribboned with a vegetable peeler

1 small red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 heaping cup organic edamame (if using frozen edamame, defrost by tossing into a pot of boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes)

1 avocado, pitted and sliced into small chunks

1 large shallot, finely sliced

handful cilantro, chopped

handful Thai basil (or regular basil), chopped


Tamari-Ginger Vinaigrette

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon finely grated ginger

1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari (or other low-sodium soy sauce*)

2 teaspoons lime juice

3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced



Use a chef's knife to remove the tough ribs from the kale, then discard them. Chop the kale leaves into small, bite-sized pieces and transfer them to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the kale with a dash of sea salt and use your hands to massage the kale by scrunching up the leaves in your hands and releasing until the kale is a darker green and fragrant. Toss the remaining salad dressing ingredients with the kale.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together all the ingredients until emulsified. Toss the dressing with the salad and serve.



Yields 2 enormous salads or 4 medium.

Storage suggestions: Leftovers will keep well in the fridge for a day or two.

*Make it gluten free: Tamari is a gluten-free Japanese soy sauce with an amazing flavor that is readily available at stores. If you want your salad to be gluten-free, be sure to pick a gluten-free soy sauce.