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!

1,050 Years of Poland’s Christianity Celebration on the Campus of the Orchard Lake Schools

This year marks the 1,050th anniversary of Poland’s Christianity. It began in 966 with the baptism of Mieszko I, Poland’s first historically known king. At that time, Christianity was accepted as the religion of the Polish nation. This faith helped the Poles endure years of war, totalitarian oppression and martial law. Even in the last 50 years, Poland has experienced monumental change. “The gift of faith has been passed from one generation to the next and we, by God’s grace and providence, are the recipients of that 1,050-year faith tradition,” said Monsignor Thomas C. Machalski, Jr., Chancellor-Rector, Orchard Lake Schools.

On June 22, 2016, the anniversary celebration will commence on the grounds of the Orchard Lake Schools. Invited guests include the Papal Nuncio and Primate of Poland; all the Polish-American Bishops; the President, Vice President, Secretary-General and Episcopal Delegate for Poles in the Diaspora of the Polish Episcopal Conference and all members of Polonia throughout the United States. Plans are also underway for Archbishop Allen Vigneron, by official decree, to name the Orchard Lake Schools the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. John Paul II.

This historical and spiritual event, cosponsored by the National Polish Apostolate, the Orchard Lake Schools and the Polish American Priests’ Association, will begin with a Mass and General Procession for all. Guests are invited to come in their native costume with their society’s banner as a celebration of national pride.

American Polish Festival and Craft Show

This year’s American Polish Festival and Craft Show will be held July 11-13, 2014, on the grounds of the American Polish Century Club, 33204 Maple Lane, Sterling Heights, MI.

The American Polish Festival draws thousands of festival-goers each year. The festival will feature live band performances, Polish Dance Ensembles, Polish and American food, refreshments, inflatables for the kids and an Outdoor Craft Show.

For crafters, the festival offers a 12’ x 12’ area for the entire weekend, although some charges may apply. Participants will be responsible for their own tables, chairs, fire resistant canopies and fire extinguishers. No electricity will be provided.

Admission to the festival is free, but there is a daily parking fee of $5.00 per car.

For more information, call (586) 731-2866, e-mail americanpolishfestival@yahoo.com or visit http://www.americanpolishfestival.com.

Source: Polonia Media Network

Members honored at PRCUA Shirley Ann Galanty Michigan State Ball

Three members from Nest 86 were honored at the 22nd anniversary of the PRCUA Shirley Ann Galanty Michigan State Ball. The ball celebrated qualifying graduates of the PRCUA Michigan dance schools. The graduates performed an elegant presentation of the “Cinderella Waltz,” “Oberek Na Lewo” and “Polonez,” followed by “I’m a Believer.” Recognized were Kristen Johns, Kaitlyn Johns and Sarah Petrykowski. Nest 86 Officers were in attendance to show support for their youth Members and a good time was had by all. Congratulations ladies!

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