Polish Art Center & Heritage Farm

By Robert Strybel, Polish/Polonian Affairs Writer

Kathleen Bittner and her two siblings grew up in Detroit’s once predominantly Polish enclave-suburb of Hamtramck, surrounded by Polish artifacts at their parents’ business – Polish Art Center. Kathleen not only knows all about imported Polish merchandise, but has become skilled in such traditional folkcrafts as pisanki (Easter eggs), wycinanki (paper cut-outs) and straw Christmas-tree ornaments.

Recently, she opened a branch of Polish Art Center in the northwestern Michigan community of Cedar in the Traverse City area. Like the original Hamtramck location, it offers a wide variety of Polish cultural goods and gift items – folkcrafts, greeting cards, books, maps, CDs and other ethnic artifacts.

A few years earlier, Kathleen said “I do” with PolAm boy Tom Koch who, while growing up, had been very close to his Polish-born grandfather, Kazimierz Szklarski. Tom inherited his green thumb and interest in farming from Dziadek Kazik, who had been raised on a farm in Poland. Later, he had an extensive garden and raised pigeons at his home in Hamtramck.

“After the arrival of our son Tomek, we couldn’t think of a better place for him to grow up than on a family farm,” Kathleen explained. “Since we were both city kids, my husband was initially a bit hesitant to make such a huge move. While discussing it, I reminded him that both our families had been farmers in Poland and his family is still running a hog farm near the northern city of Bydgoszcz. Maybe for us that would not be doing something new but returning to what we were really meant to do all along.”

A woman’s power of persuasion knows no bounds, and the result was Polish Heritage Farm on Lake Leelanau in Cedar, Mich. “It has been quite an exciting year-and-a-half since moving here but we couldn’t be happier,” Kathleen told this reporter. “We have never worked harder but also never experienced something so rewarding!” They raise produce from seeds imported from Poland, have over 150 chickens, heritage-breed hogs, goats and rabbits, as well as a huge vegetable garden.

The PolAm couple, both in their early 30s, is now in their second growing season, so they are still establishing what grows best and what types of crops (red currents, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, fruit trees, etc.) would be worth cultivating in future years. The heritage farm offers pickling cucumbers, radishes, oregano, thyme, basil, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, beets and tomatoes – all from Polish seeds – as well as farm-fresh eggs.

The family farm also provides freshly butchered USDA certified meat ranging from a side of pork or a whole hog in six large pieces ($4 a pound) to basic cuts in one to three pound sealed packages or according to customer preference ($4.75 a pound). Complete processing including fresh cuts and Old World specialties such as bacon, ham and fresh and smoked kiełbasa are also available. Dressed goats and rabbits are sold whole.

Queries regarding both the Polish Art Center and Heritage Farm should be emailed to: kmbfri1382@gmail.com or phone: 231-228-2461. I might add that while preparing this article, Kathleen and Tom experienced their second blessed event: a little girl named Leokadia Ray. Is this the start of a new PolAm business dynasty? Let’s hope so!

Donald Trump meets with leaders of Polish American community

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump met on Wednesday, September 28 with leaders of the Polish American community at the office of the Polish National Alliance in Chicago. PFA National President Timothy L. Kuzma represented the Polish Falcons of America at the meeting. The meeting was organized by the Polish American Congress (PAC).

PAC President Frank Spula welcomed Mr. Trump to the Polish National Alliance headquarters. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani accompanied Mr. Trump.

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President Spula addressed issues of importance to Polish Americans and Poland; specifically the critical need for a strong NATO, of which the Republic of Poland has been a member since 1999, as well as Poland’s inclusion into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Mr. Trump expressed strong support for both issues, including the support of a missile defense system which’s elements have been located in Poland. Mr. Trump said, “I am all for NATO and in a Trump Administration, we will have a friendly and strong partnership with Poland and Polish Americans.”

Although unfamiliar with the issue of inclusion of Poland into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, Trump expressed concern that Poland is not a member of the Program. Trump said, “I promise that within weeks of my Administration being sworn into office, I will see to the approval of Poland in the Visa Waiver Program.”

Mr. Trump thanked those in attendance for the hospitality afforded him and Mr. Giuliani.

Meeting participants included: Frank J Spula – President of the Polish American Congress & Polish National Alliance; Rick E. Pierchalski, PAC First Vice President; Mark Pienkos, PAC VP for Public Relations; Hubert Cioromski, PAC VP for Financial Development; Timothy Kuzma, President of the Polish Falcons of America and PAC Secretary; Micheline Jaminski, PAC Treasurer, President of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America; Romuald Poplawski, President of the PAC Illinois Division; Mary Anselmo, PAC National Director; Jacek Niemczyk, PAC National Director, General Manager of the WPNA Radio Station; Magdalena Pantelis, PAC National Director, General Manager of the Alliance Publishers and Printers; Joseph Drobot, PAC National Director, President of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America; Marian Grabowski, PAC National Director, Treasurer of the Polish National Alliance; Bozena Nowicka McLees, PAC National Director, Chair of the PAC Educational Commission; Charles Komosa, PAC National Director, Secretary of the Polish National Alliance; Margaret Blaszczuk, PAC National Director, Editor of the Polish Daily News; Alicja Kuklinska, PAC National Director, Editor of Zgoda; Mark Grzymala, PAC IL Division Director; Kornelia Krol, President of the Polish American Medical Association; Maciej Pisarski, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Washington; Piotr Janicki, Consul General of the Republic of Poland, Chicago; Anna Morzy, President of the Polish American Chamber of Commerce; Ewa Koch, President of the Polish Teachers Association in America; Jan Cikowski, President of the Polish Highlanders in America, and Iwona Wegrzyn Bochenski, President of the Warsaw Committee of Chicago Sister Cities.

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Following the meeting with leaders of the Polish American community, Mr. Trump spoke to nearly two hundred Polish Americans who gathered in the PNA headquarters. Mr. Trump reinforced his fondness and commitment to Poland and Polish Americans.

The meeting was organized by the Office of President Spula, Mr. William Ciosek of the Donald Trump Campaign with the assistance of Anthony Bajdek, Polish American Congress Vice President for American Affairs.

The Polish American Congress has reached out to the Hillary Clinton Campaign for a similar opportunity to meet with Secretary Clinton. As of today, the campaign has not responded to the invitation.

The Polish American Congress does not endorse candidates, but hopes to inform candidates as to the issues facing Poland and Polish Americans.

Polishfest 2016

A “family-oriented festival” of Polish live music, song, folk dance performances, ethnic foods, crafts and culture will be presented on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016 from noon to 5 p.m. at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning (Commons Room, 1st Floor). This cultural event is FREE and open to the public. A variety of cooking demonstrations and food sampling, make-n-take kids crafts, folk art demonstrations, and a holiday craft and gift mart will be centered around “A Celebration Of Christmas in The Old Country.” This year’s festival will also celebrate the rich culture, music and folklore of Pittsburgh’s Lithuanian Community. Take a trip to the “Old Country” without leaving Pittsburgh. It’s FREE!

Featured entertainment will include: Bociai Lithuanian Chorus, Frania’s Polka Celebration, Lajkoniki Polish Folk Ensemble, Living Traditions Folk Ensemble, Radoslaw Fizek (Polish Folk Songs and Christmas Carols) and the Echos of Lithuania.

For more information, contact L.G. Kozlowski, Festival Director, at lgk505@aol.com or 814-969-5940.

Polishfest ’16 is partially sponsored by the Polish Falcons of America and the Polish Falcons Heritage Foundation.

District II Fashion Show

District II Fashion Show

District II is hosting its Annual Fashion Show on November 6, and this year will feature fun accessories: jewelry, purses, scarves and more! The event will be held from noon to 3 p.m. at Skylite West Banquets (7117 W. Ogden Ave., Berwyn, IL 60402). Cost is $30 per person and there will be a cash bar. RSVP by November 1 using the form linked below. Contact Beth Sadowski at beth.a.sadowski@gmail.com with any questions.

Click here for additional information.

Polish Platter Dinner

St. Mary R.C. Church (857 Kenneth Ave., New Kensington, PA 15068) will host a Polish Platter Dinner (pierogi, golabki, haluski, kielbasa, string beans polonaise, dinner roll, beverage) on Sunday, October 2, at their Friendship Hall. Dinner price is $11 and eat-in is available from noon to 4 p.m. Take-out is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For additional information, please call 724-335-8212.