90-year-old man keeps farmer’s market growing

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Bob Michalski sells his homegrown fruits at the only farmer’s market on Grand Rapids’ West Side.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” Michalski said. “I enjoy doing this.”

Despite his age, the 90-year-old native West Sider sets up shop in West Leonard Christian Reformed Church parking lot every Thursday.

Michalski picks and sells his produce. He said his love for people keeps him growing.

“I mean, you meet people all the time,” Michalski said.

Michalski has been meeting and greeting shoppers for decades. Community members said he is the oldest of the two remaining farmers who started the market when the West Grand Neighborhood Organization used grant money to back it 20 years ago.

“I guess the Lord’s putting up with me,” Michalski said.

When the grant money ran dry, historians said the farmers market was on the verge of shutting down, but Michalski and farmer Todd Quick kept it alive by continuing to show up.

“They’re just fantastic,” said Nola Jenner-Steketee, former executive director of West Grand Neighborhood Organization. “They’ve done so many things for the West Side.”

In return, City Commissioner John O’Connor presented Michalski with a proclamation to honor him for his service.

“It’s important to celebrate people like that and his contributions to making this a great community and a great neighborhood,” O’Connor said.

Michalski doesn’t keep the market going for the accolades, but for the generations of West Siders to come.

“It’s been a good place,” Michalski said.

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