Only six markets remain in this year of the coronavirus. And what a market season it’s been!
From that cautious opening in May when no one knew what to expect, through a summer of sun and a fine bounty of produce and now into fall – it has been one we’ll never forget. All season we stuck with the plan we drew up in the spring – to keep you healthy by bringing nutritious food from our farmers’ fields directly to you, our shoppers. You responded by wearing masks, social distancing and showing up in record numbers. Hooray to everyone!
But there are a couple of items we want to take note of before we celebrate the end of the season Oct. 31. We’ve designated Saturday, Oct. 3, as the Market of the Harvest Moon. In years past, that meant we would share our space in the evening with the Harvest Moon Celebration, a favorite community get-together. But that party, like so many other civic events, has been canceled this year. Instead, we will celebrate the harvest as farmers have done forever – by making the most of fall’s bounty.
We knew going into this summer that at some point the market’s one millionth customer would enter the pavilion, which would be cause for celebration. Unfortunately, that took a backseat to the pandemic. So, on Saturday, Oct. 10, we’re making amends by recognizing ALL of our shoppers for their loyalty and understanding in keeping this market alive. How will we do that? Stop by between 10:00 and 10:15 a.m. to find out.
Finally, we will wrap up this most remarkable season on Oct. 31. Yes, it will be Halloween at the market that day. Everyone is encouraged to wear costumes – shoppers, farmers and vendors. And you’ll find bowls of candy scattered around the market.
We may have tiptoed into this season back in May, but we’re ending it with a bang.
Get help with the challenge of going back to school
As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the topic of a safe return to school has evolved into a complicated issue. It has stirred up a lot of passionate debate among public health experts, educators, politicians, parents and students alike.
On this podcast from market sponsor Beaumont Hospital, experts share important information designed to guide you through the challenge. The podcast is hosted by Dr. Nick Gilpin, Beaumont Health's medical director of infection prevention and epidemiology. His first guest is his brother, Ben Gilpin, who is principal at Warner Elementary in Spring Arbor. Also sharing information is Dr. Trini Mathew, a Beaumont Health infectious diseases expert.
Topics tackled in the podcast include:
How COVID might look different in kids
What you and the schools can do to provide a safe, healthy environment
What schools should do in the event of an outbreak
To hear the podcast, choose from these listening options:
We've pushed even further onto Market Street
Expanding the market onto the east side of Market Street, as we did two months ago, was such a great idea that we have now staked a claim to part of the west side.
The move originally was done to spread out our farmers and vendors so we'd have good social distancing space. It also meant we could add more sellers. The market uses a specific formula that tells us how many vendors and shoppers we can safely accommodate in our given footprint. So, in order to bring back more tents, we needed to expand that space.
The answer was Market Street, which became ours to use thanks to city officials. The move has been well-received by farmers, vendors and shoppers alike. It has allowed us to add more variety and bring back more familiar faces. In a sense, it has allowed the market and its shoppers to breathe more safely. In other words, it's a win for everyone.
A four-peat as best market in metro Detroit
We're No. 1 again!
It's official: For the fourth straight year, the Farmington Farmers Market has been voted the best farmers market in Metro Detroit! The news was announced July 24 on WDIV Channel 4, the sponsor of the Vote 4 the Best contest.
"It's great to win this title any year, but it's especially gratifying this year," said market manager Walt Gajewski. "We've worked really hard to keep our market safe during this pandemic so we can bring nutritious food to our shoppers."
Unlike other area markets, Farmington opened on schedule this spring after weeks of preparation that included setting up traffic flow, designating specific entrances and exits and offering handwashing stations. Masks were required of vendors and volunteers and strongly recommended for shoppers (they are now required). Tables were spaced in such a way as to maintain social distancing.
"We did our homework, and we've been diligent in maintaining healthy standards," Gajewski said. "The reward was immediate – after a slow opening day, we've seen our attendance numbers increase steadily. And that's been great for everybody – our farmers and vendors as well as our shoppers. Everyone involved gets the credit for this win."
A new 2020 market banner acknowledging the win is now on display in the market's home, the Walter E. Sundquist Pavilion in downtown Farmington, beginning Saturday. It hangs alonside three other Best of Detroit banners.
French Lady will be back this season ... we hope
As her many fans know all too well, the French Lady has not been at the market for several weeks. But she plans to be back sometime this market season.
After delighting shoppers with her meringues. quiches and other treats for the first few weeks, the French Lady, real name Claude Pellerin, has had trouble finding kitchen space in which to prepare her goodies.
“We are ‘playing by ear’ right now, and I can't tell when I'll be back in business,” she wrote in a recent email to market manager Walt Gajewski. “I'm sorry I can't give more positive and clear news.”
As of August 16, there was no update. "Administration in the States is like in France ... too slow! " she emailed Gajewski. But the manager does expect her back at the market yet this summer. “She is a big part of what we are all about,” he said, “simply good food found here!”
In her email, Ms. Pellerin added that she and her husband “miss the markets very much … for the people, for the connections we made those past two years, the community feeling, the friendships we both developed with fellow vendors or customers.
“I received so many phone calls and emails from my wonderful customers, it warms my heart! We are looking forward to being back.”
So are we.
Fresh coffee returns to the market
For those who like their java as they shop the market, we have good news: Once again we are offering freshly brewed coffee inside the pavilion on the west side.
We welcome Mugs Coffee and Grub to our roster. Owner Mel Hussin serves brews and baked goods at his new shop on the west side Orchard Lake Road, just north of Shiawassee, at the end of a small strip mall.
His timing in opening his shop was not the best -- just a few months after he and his wife, Sara, began doing business, the coronavirus shut them down. But the coffee place is open again, offering carry-out, online ordering and dining-in from a limited menu.
"We are a family-owned shop serving high-quality organic coffee," Mel said. "We're trying to do what we can to be earth and health conscious while offering vegan and dairy-free options so everyone can enjoy something at our coffee shop."
For now, Mugs will be offering just coffee and tea for now, although Mel said they will have some "bagel bombs" (stuffed bagels) from Evergreens Bakery in Oxford. "Usually we get baked goods from Avalon in Detroit, but they aren’t back to wholesaling items yet," he said.
You'll find Mugs Coffee and Grub in the southwest corner of the pavilion. Stop by and welcome them to the market. We're happy to have them.
Wear that mask
Wearing a face mask continues to be mandatory in order to enter the Farmers Market this Saturday and until further notice. If you don't have one, you can get a disposable one free of charge at either entrance.
The market has encouraged the wearing of masks since opening May 16. But the practice has become more urgent as the number of coronavirus cases has begun to grow.
The market has been directed by the city to be in accordance with the recent executive order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that requires all Michiganders to wear masks in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces or face a misdemeanor charge that comes with up to a $500 fine.
To obtain a free mask, just ask any volunteer; they're the folks wearing black aprons and name tags.