Fresh produce fans rejoice: The Berkley Farm Stand will open Saturday on a plot of land along 12 Mile Road next to .
Berkley native Laura Uhlianuk will sell fruits and vegetables grown at her family's farm in North Branch from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or until the produce runs out, seven days a week – including Labor Day – through September. October hours will be determined based on demand, she said.
"We start all of our vegetable plants in our own greenhouses with organic, non- GMO seed," The Berkley Farm Stand website says. "At The Berkley Farm Stand we are committed to selling 100% Michigan grown. Less than 24 hours soil to stand. The only thing better than that is growing it yourself!"
Uhlianuk, who graduated from in 1987, went away to college before returning to her hometown and meeting her husband Lee at the Royal Oak Farmers Market. The pair were married in 2002, when she joined him on his farm and they began to grow their business: Uhlianuk’s Specialties From the Farm, LLC.
The Uhlianuks also sell produce at farmers markets in Grosse Pointe and Birmingham, as well as Eastern Market in Detroit on Tuesdays, she said.
Uhlianuk said the idea for a farm stand in Berkley came from her 4-year-old son Ben, who wanted to sell some of the veggies he grew in the garden last year. Uhlianuk said she obliged him in mid-August by setting up a six-foot table on her mom's lawn in Berkley where he could offer his produce for sale.
"By mid-October, it was sprawled out all over my mom's front yard," she said. "People were pouring in from everywhere. I reconnected with people I hadn't seen for years. It was really a nice, old-fashioned, community feeling."
People knocked on her mom's door all winter asking when they would be back, Uhlianuk said, which got her thinking. Maybe Berkley was ripe for a full-fledged farm stand.
So, when she spotted the empty lot next to Clark's Ice Cream, she stopped in to investigate whether it could serve as a location for the stand and found a willing partner in manager Justin Bumann of Oak Park, whose family owns the land.
"Everything literally just came together in 2 1/2 weeks," Uhlianuk said. "Boom, boom, boom. It's like it was meant to be."
Bumann shares her enthusiasm.
"It's seems like everybody's going to love the idea," he said. "Also, my wife is like, 'Do it! Do it! Do it! We need a farm stand here.' "
He said Clark's will provide parking space for farm stand shoppers and will charge Uhlianuk a nominal fee for expenses such as bathroom use. Farm stand shoppers are discouraged from using the parking lot at due to its constricted layout, Bumann said.
Nikki McAskin of Berkley, who was enjoying ice cream Tuesday outside Clark's with her daughters, was excited about the farm stand.
"I love it, especially if it is during the week," she said. "We go to the one in Royal Oak, but mornings can be kind of crazy and by the time you get there in the afternoon, everything's picked over."
Uhlianuk said she has hired some Berkley teenagers to help out at the stand after school and welcomes input from the community on ways residents can get involved and on what kinds of produce, products and activities should be offered.
Besides fruits and veggies, The Berkley Farm Stand also will offer farm classes, story times and a full moon pumpkin patch, Uhlianuk said.
She said she hopes the stand will attract outsiders to Berkley and introduce them to the retail options in its walkable downtown.
"Berkley is so well-located in the middle of everything – it's 20 minutes from everywhere – so, I think this will bring people who don't normally go there," she said. "When people come into the city, it will benefit nearby businesses."