ZEELAND, Mich. -- Many local restaurants like to tout their farm to table status. They rely on places like Visser Farms for their produce and other fresh ingredients to create those great dishes. But with no dine-in guests at those restaurants, you can try farm to your dining room table and get some of that produce from Visser Farms directly.
We spoke with Shelby Visser who said the pandemic cost them 95% of their restaurant sales.
"It was really hard to hear," Visser said as she spoke about the government's mandated shutdown. "We got emails from the chefs saying 'Sorry, we have to cancel our order today. We just don't have a plan.'"
The farm regularly sold to 30 local restaurants with another 20 or so occasionally ordering as well.
"We sold to The Knickerbocker (for example)," she added. "They would get pallets of potatoes every week."
But when restaurants couldn’t house guests any longer, the orders stopped coming in. Shelby and her family knew they had to try something new to find other ways to sell their vegetables. After seeing other farms sell online, Shelby decided to give it a try. The response was good. So good, in fact, they were in need of other locations to meet up with the demand. The farm now has eight locations, some pop-ups and other farmers markets, where they are selling their produce directly to consumers.
"Now that the markets are starting, it's really great to be back in season but the markets are obviously going to be crowded," Visser said. "So this is kind of like a more spread out way, more days during the week, that more people can come and shop more spread out so you’re more socially distanced."
You can find Visser Farms at the Holland Farmers Market on Wednesdays, the Metro Health Farmers Market on Thursdays, and the Grand Haven and Rockford Markets on Saturdays. Plus, you'll find them at the Fulton Street Farmers Market which just started their summer hours. But new pop-up locations have been added on Chicago Drive and Ottawa Beach in Holland. And of course, the farm is always open. You can order from Visser Farm's online store which also offers flowers and plants in addition to their vegetables.
So for your next Take Out Tuesday, or any other day of the week, don’t forget you can get your fresh produce directly from places like Visser Farms and help support the suppliers to your local restaurants too.