There’s nothing like a little green growing in the ground to get one fired up about the Farmers Market, which opens May 8. In fact, many crops are well established by now, in both greenhouses and the warming soil. Here are sneak peaks from several of our farmers on what they’ll be bringing to market:
Brittney Rooney of Beaverland reported on March 18:
The peas are in, the garlic is sprouting, and all our salad greens are planted! Also, our greenhouse is full of transplants for planting next month, and our May transplant sales!
Also on March 18, Travis Schulert shared big news:
We were Great Lakes Permadynamics. We are now Strong Soil Farm. Strongsoilfarm.com. If anyone visits the old website permadynamics.org, they will be redirected to our new site automatically.
This year we are doubling greenhouse space, doubling garden space, and not doing a CSA.
I have a podcast that I started called "Grow It! Farm - Life - Business" which is available everywhere. And a YouTube channel "Travis Schulert." Also Facebook – Travis Schulert – and Instagram – Travis_Schulert
This year we are growing more of what everyone loves: microgreens, salad mixes, broccolini, sweet peppers and so, so much more.
Scott Robertello of Kapnick Orchards reports:
The 2021 crop outlook looks great at this point in time (early March)! Our temperatures this winter stayed fairly close to normal and we didn't experience any very low temperatures or very warm temperatures. That being said, we are entering into a two-month period where there are great fluctuations in temperature so we are not out of the woods yet. But you have to start good to end good, I say!
We are not planting any new crops this year, but we are planting more strawberries, blueberries, peaches and nectarines this spring.
I can't say enough good things about the market last year! We attend several markets and Walt & Staff really went above and beyond to get the market open and running as safe as possible. 2020 was our best sales season ever by far and I think we will see a continued increase in sales as more people are thinking more about where their food comes from and the need to support all local businesses.
The Weekly Market Basket Giveaway returns
It’s with great pride and pleasure that we announce the return of our Weekly Market Basket Giveaway for the 2021 season.
The popular feature took a sabbatical last season due to the pandemic so we could focus on keeping our shoppers, vendors and volunteers safe. But now, thanks to a great co-operative effort by everyone to wear masks and maintain safe distances last season, the market community has overwhelmingly demonstrated it may be possible to safely return to some kind of normal this summer, an idea that’s fortified by the success of vaccinations.
As a reminder for you veteran shoppers and an introduction for newcomers, here’s how the giveaway works:
Every Saturday morning when the market opens, volunteers visit farmers and vendors with a wagon to collect such donated items as a bundle of fresh asparagus or a bar of handmade soap. The haul, which is displayed at the information tent, can weigh 40 lbs. and be worth $125 or more.
To register for the drawing, just stop by the tent and fill out a slip of paper with your name and phone number. At noon a blind drawing picks the winner, who is contacted by phone and must collect the bounty before we close at 2 p.m.
And there’s a bonus: As you fill out your entry, you can say hello to our hard-working volunteers and get caught up on what’s new at the market. It’s all part of a Saturday in a Michigan small town.
See you May 8 – Opening Day!
Farmers are ready to take your 2021 CSA orders
Thanks to the coronavirus, Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA programs, enjoyed a very good year in 2020. And consumer interest should remain high this summer.
Introduced in Europe, CSAs allow consumers to buy directly from farmers. In many respects it’s a quaint and sensible system that has taken on more significance during the coronavirus when control over what you eat and where you get it is so important.
“Community supported agriculture in these upside-down times is more like agriculture supporting community,” said Walt Gajewski, Farmington’s market manager. “This is just another way that farmers markets are naturally relevant.”
Here are the basics: A farmer offers a certain number of shares for the public to buy. Typically the share — or membership or subscription —consists of a weekly box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers buy shares usually for the summer or half the summer and in return receive seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
It's a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs over the last few years. In some areas of the country, demand exceeds the number CSA farms. LocalHarvest, the country’s leading local food website, has the most comprehensive directory of CSA farms, with more than 4,000 listed in its database.
Many of the farmers who come to the Farmington Farmers Market offer various versions of CSAs. Here’s their information for the 2021 season. Check back for updates.
Beaverland Farms in Detroit is offering spring and full season CSA for pick-up at the farm or the farmers market again this year. For more information, go to: https://beaverlandfarms.square.site/csa
Fusilier Family Farms’ CSA program will be back for another season. Each week members receive a basket of fresh, premium, all-natural produce throughout the 22-week season that lasts from June 1 through October. For more information visit: http://fusilierfamilyfarms.com/content/6506
The Goetz Greenhouse and Family Farm has been offering CSAs since 2012. They come in two sizes — full shares are delivered to the market every week and half shares every other week June-October. Shares include a diverse selection of at least five items a week that are delivered to the market. For more information, go to: https://www.sites.google.com/site/goetzgreenhouse/csa---community-supported-agriculture
Kapnick Orchards, as you’d expect, offers an all-fruit CSA. This season will be its fifth. For more information, go to http://www.kapnickorchards.com/csa.html.
Please check back as we get closer to our May 8 opening for more information.
Sharing the bounty of the fall harvest with C.A.R.E.S.
It started the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 3, as boxes of non-perishable food – cereal, pasta, soup – were brought together at the Farmington Farmers Market.
They were soon joined by bags of bread, cookies and other baked goods. Then the fresh produce began to arrive – big boxes and bags of carrots, green beans, red apples, celery, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, rhubarb, kale, squash, etc., etc.
The end result was a small mountain of nutritious food donated by the market’s farmers and vendors to C.A.R.E.S. (Community. Action. Resources. Empowerment. Services.) of Farmington Hills. The agency, known for its work with area families who are in need of different kinds of assistance, would stock its pantry with the bounty and offer it to hundreds of families over the next few days.
“That was amazing,” said Todd Lipa, C.A.R.E.S. executive director who also serves as Director of Youth and Family Services for the City of Farmington Hills who was at Riley Park to witness the generosity.
Pre-pandemic, the farmers market would have spent its harvest moon market promoting Farmington’s popular Harvest Moon Celebration, a community party that would take over the park and pavilion that evening. But like so much else, the coronavirus canceled that celebration. Still, market manager Walt Gajewski didn’t want to ignore the harvest moon theme.
“So we decided to take a more traditional approach of honoring the fall harvest by sharing the bounty,” he said. “Our shoppers have been very generous this year despite the challenges of the coronavirus, and this allowed our farmers and vendors to give back to the community.”
C.A.R.E.S. began a relationship with the market last year when the Goetz Family Farm and Greenhouses agreed to donate whatever they had left at the end of market day.
“Today we noticed it was all kinds of different farmers and smaller vendors who packaged up a box or bag of food,” Lipa said.
He added that he knew the haul would be big. He just didn’t know how big. Luckily, he had planned ahead, sending his agency’s 12-foot box truck, a donation by Paulson’s Audio & Video of Farmington Hills, to the scene. And a half-dozen volunteers, including pantry director Tim Cobb, were on hand to make quick work of the packing.
“They filled up the truck,” Lipa said. “Now we’ll spend Sunday and Monday packaging it all for our guests when they arrive Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Market assistant Alexander Steward, who helped to co-ordinate the project, was impressed at the farmers’ and vendors’ participation.
“Some couldn’t give a lot because their product is at a higher cost but still wanted to contribute something,” he said. “And it was cool to see artisans bring canned goods and more because they don’t make food products they can contribute.”
Donations came from these farmers: Goetz, Gass Centennial Farm, Xiong's Fresh Asian Produce, Beaverland, Farm & Forest, Forest Treats, Fusilier Family Farms and Greenhouses, Kapnick Orchards, R & B Miller Farms, Odie’s Flowers, Lake Divide Farm and Great Lakes Permadynamics.
Also donating were these vendors: Rose Best, Wright by Design Card Co., U.P. Pasties, Radical Plants, Babcia’s Boy, Chocolate Chipped Bakery, Baking Legends, Golden Wheat (Cannelle) Bakery, Mamma Rita’s Bakery, Chene Modern Bakery, People’s Pierogi, Teffola (Tenera Grains), Triple B Honey, Detroit Gourmet Nut Co., Spice Grrrl and Old World Olive Oil.
Lipa expects several hundred families to benefit from the market’s generosity. Again, the coronavirus has hampered distribution, but he expects to see upward of 250 families enjoying the harvest bounty.
He also points out that C.A.R.E.S. does a lot more than gather and distribute food.
“We’re always looking at what else we can do for people who’ve gone through struggles” he said.
C.A.R.E.S. is located in the former Servant Church of St. Alexander on Shiawassee east of Middlebelt in Farmington Hills. For information, call 248-474-8231.
Thank you, shoppers
It was a low-key celebration on Saturday, Sept. 26, but very meaningful to all of us at the farmers market. We honored the million-plus shoppers who have come to the market in its 27 years downtown.
We did that by handing out special millionth shopper pins and apples – a longtime symbol of the market and the nutritional food it offers. At around 10:20 a.m., the market bell rang to get everyone’s attention, and Mayor Sara Bowman said a few words acknowledging the million-shopper milestone. A group photo was taken, and then it was back to business on a beautiful fall day with farmer stands offering fresh, nutritional produce.
In a summer of no pandemic, the celebration would have been a little flashier, a little more prolonged. But among the many things we’ve learned this year is that sometimes it’s best to do business quickly and safely and move on. There will be more milestones to mark along the way.
What’s next? This Saturday, Oct. 3, is the Market of the Harvest Moon. Now, in years past, that meant we would share our space in the evening with the Harvest Moon Celebration, a favorite community get-together. But the coronavirus has canceled that party, like so many other civic events. Instead, we will celebrate the harvest as farmers have done forever – by making the most of fall’s bounty.
Then comes our final market ont Oct. 31 – Halloween! We won’t celebrate as we have in years past, but we’d love to see costumed shoppers, farmers and vendors roaming the pavilion. Just be sure to wear a cloth mask, not a plastic one. And no candy; sorry.
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.