by Denise Dykstra
My husband was able to see one of his dreams come true this past weekend.
Jake Dykstra has grown up in produce. Almost literally. Since he was a very little boy, Jake’s dad and then Jake’s dad with Jake’s older brother have been involved in the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market in Grand Rapids. My husband’s first jobs were working with his dad and his brother, first in the fields and then at the market.
Later, Jake and his brother built Gun Lake Farm Market when Jake graduated from high school. They sold that market in 1996, but Jake has never gotten the produce market life out of his blood.
When we first moved out to a little farm near Gun Lake, we began our family, and Jake began gardening. He grew more than 300 tomato plants because he had “gotten a screaming good deal.”.With a baby in a swing, I got to work canning the influx of tomatoes he had. When we had so many tomatoes that I began to have dreams I was drowning in red tomatoes, Jake began to sell them out by the road.
The next year he planted more tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash and all the things. All the time we lived at that farmhouse, Jake grew vegetables, and I sold them from our driveway and front porch.
When we moved to the Village of Martin, Jake thought he may be done with his growing years. He was in town now, and maybe he would just grow a few little things just for us. That thought lasted all of about five minutes. It didn’t take him long at all to till up the ground behind our house and another monster garden was created.
Jake has been selling produce from our front yard ever since. But even when he was selling from the front yard, he was still dreaming of a Farmers Market. It’s just in his blood.
Jake petitioned the Village of Martin (which he is on the Village Council, so it wasn’t too hard for him to do) to have a Farmer’s Market last year. They said they would allow it, but not be in charge of it. Jake was just fine with doing all the work on his own. He planted and grew a phenomenal garden. But then the water tower in the center of town, which was the parking lot he needed for the market, needed extensive work and the market idea went on the shelf again.
But he was ready for it this year.
Jake has been babying his garden this year, and of course, it decided to throw a hissy fit and has been giving him all kinds of grief from bugs and weird weather. Still, he keeps urging it along. He picked every single green bean, yellow bean, pickling cucumber, sweet corn ear and turnip he could dig up on Friday night. He bundled every single zinnia bunch.
Then Saturday, long before I wanted to be awake, he set up at the Water Tower in the center of Martin and joined other local sellers to have Martin’s first Farmers Market.
Now, I will tell you, the man was stressed leading up to this. I am telling you all the happy updates leading up to this moment. But what you don’t see are the hours and hours behind the scenes of him planning this day in his head and working the garden in his yard.
It was hot Saturday and still there were six tables set up in the shade of a now repaired water tower, all selling their wares. Jake had his vegetables, Brookside from just over the highway had all the blueberries (as well as coffee and baked goods) you could desire. The Bender family sold sunflower bouquets and honey. Frankie had loads of amazing house plants. Clearview had beef available, and the beef sticks were a big hit. Jason Sherry sold his wooden creations.
Everyone selling there was from within a five-mile radius. Everyone there had a love of Martin. Everyone there had grown or planted or made their products right here in Martin.
For the first time in his life, Jake has his own market just the way he has always thought a market should be. It’s a market made up of his neighbors selling the best of their best. He is as proud of all of them as he is of himself.
Jake was thrilled. Thrilled! A market made up of the best that the people in Martin had to offer just made him so happy. He could tell someone in great detail how he went to Zeeland to purchase the seeds that he grew the very vegetables you were looking at. He could tell you how the produce he has coming is delayed and why. He beamed when so many people came to see what there was to buy and ran into old friends again. He spent the entire day talking with all the people.
And at the end of the day, he leaned back in his comfortable armchair and took a good, long nap, the accomplishment of a job well done replacing the stress he had been feeling.
Jake hopes that even more people show up to Martin’s Farmers Market. You don’t have to live right in Martin, but he would prefer you be the one who grew or created the item you have to sell. He is hoping that this does so well that the market can continue for years to come.
Come check it out every Saturday in August at the Water Tower in the center of town from 9 a.m to 1 p.m.