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Visser Farms: Rooted in the Lakeshore

Visser Farms: Rooted in the Lakeshore

Samantha Vanderberg
7/24/14
Food, Local Business

Since 1902

Visser Farms has been a community staple for over 100 years. Since 1902, to be exact. In the early days, the Vissers and other farmers would go door to door to sell produce and set up markets in urban locations for those that couldn’t have gardens of their own, or those that wanted to supplement their personal gardens. Almost everyone canned and preserved seasonal produce.

The farmers markets slumped in the 70s and 80s with the rise of big box stores and pre-packaged food, but in recent years, people are more educated about their food sources. They want fresh, local food. And the place to get it? Farmers markets. “Farmers markets have become mainstream places for food, knowledge, and a way of living,” says Megan Visser, wife of fifth-generation Case Visser and an employee who wears many hats in the family business.

Local partnerships

Along with supplying conscious shoppers in West Michigan with fresh produce, Visser Farms provides produce for many local restaurants. On the Lakeshore, 84 East, 8th Street Grille, and Butch’s Drydock are just a few businesses that source their food from Visser Farms. In Grand Rapids, Grove, Bistro Bella Vita, Reserve, the Electric Cheetah, and others serve meals made with Visser Farms’ produce. But there’s always room for growth. Visser says “We look forward to partnering with other businesses and restaurants in the future through our network at Local First.”

Giving back

Visser Farms donates produce to area food pantries and shelters, and they volunteer equipment and time at their church food distribution center for the community. They also like to sponsor local foodie events such as The Carve, Salsa Showdown, and the Chef Series at the Holland Farmers Market. And – they host farm tours for kids to educate them about agriculture and nutrition. Supporting the community is just natural: “Our family settled here all those years ago and it’s where our roots run deep.”

Rewarding work

One of Visser’s favorite events is the Strawberry Extravaganza that Visser Farms hosts every spring. She says, “It’s so much fun to see our customers and friends enjoying our farm and the produce we raise.” Their customers matter: “We really enjoy the stories people share with us about our farm, doing business over the years with our family, recipes, and photos. People feel connected to our family and our product and we love that! We appreciate their loyalty and that they love what we’re doing too. It makes it so worthwhile.”

Shopping tips

  • Bring a list with you
  • Get to know your farmer
  • Look for the most colorful, best smelling vegetables
  • Come early!

Find Visser Farms’ produce

Grand Haven Farmers Market: Wednesday and Saturday 8am – 1pm
Holland Farmers Market: Wednesday and Saturday 8am – 3pm
South Haven Farmers Market: Saturday 8am – 2pm
Fulton Street Farmers Market: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 8am – 3pm
Rockford Farmers Market: Saturday 8am – 1pm
The Farm: Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm

Learn more about Visser Farms and other Local Treasures at localtreasure.org.

Originally published in Urban St. Magazine

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