Market welcomes a new vendor and a new day sponsor
We'll have a new vendor and a new day sponsor at the May 14 Market.
The vendor is the Detroit Can Co., started by Mike and Linda Stone of Farmington. For many years, the Stones ran a family fundraising business. But, as they say on their website, “Covid changed everything. Because these were congregating events in public places, everything came to a screeching halt … It was time to reinvent.”
Their reinvention became the Detroit Can Co., a clever gift business that offers carefully selected and themed items packed in vintage-designed, sealed, reusable paint cans (openers included).
“Many of our cans are focused on local Detroit and Michigan products, curated from our local businesses,” they explain. “We have fun putting these together, and we know you, and those you gift these to, will enjoy popping the top to see what’s inside!”
Visit their website by clicking here.
We welcome as day sponsor Generous Muse Travel Agency, which is owned by Carrie L. Christoph, a lifelong Farmington Hills resident who is an active member of her community and a world traveler.
Carrie believes all people can experience the joys, learning and personal development that comes from exploring new places. She specializes in making travel accessible for a wide range of people and their family members; including special needs travelers.
Additionally, Carrie creates group packages for people who are celebrating special occasions, such as weddings, honeymoons, birthdays and anniversaries. She also helps entrepreneurs organize and book group workshops, conferences and retreats.
For more information, visit her website here.
Market sets a new attendance record in 2021
That’s the message we got from the 2021 Farmington Farmers Market season. And it says a lot, considering the challenges of the last two years.
To survive the summer of covid in 2020, the Market had to return to its roots: keeping folks healthy with fresh, nutritious farm products in an open-air setting. We became a safe haven for many during a time of uncertainty and even fear. The payoff was big. Many people discovered the Market, helping to make us a true community bright spot. Not surprisingly, we won our fourth-straight title as WDIV’s Best Farmers Market in Metro Detroit.
But it was the Market of 2021 that confirmed our success. When the season ended in early November and market manager Walt Gajewski did the math, he found that we set a single-season attendance record of 100,912 visitors.
“Opening the market in 2020 with strict covid precautions and enjoying such a great season made us realize that we are community caretakers,” said Gajewski. “We faced strong headwinds in 2020, and we blossomed and carried it forward in 2021.”
Things started slowly this past spring. Following state regulations, we opened with the same covid protocols with which we closed in 2020. That meant masks were required, social distancing was encouraged and special programs such as the POP! Club for kids were no-shows.
But as the state’s vaccination rate picked up and infection numbers fell, regulations were relaxed. The mood at the Market lightened, and the shoppers, many of them voluntarily masked, kept coming. And bringing friends.
“I’ve said this a million times over the years: Nine out of 10 people who visit the Farmers Market for the very first time are going to come back, and half of them will bring someone else with them,” Gajewski said. “That’s how this market grows year after year.”
Leading the way
Fueling the record attendance were several programs that skipped 2020 due to covid. They included:
Strawberry Shortcake Day. Taking place over two Saturdays because of sketchy weather, the event sold out 500 portions of homemade biscuits and freshly picked berries courtesy of Kapnick Orchards, one of our vendors. Their crowning glory was vanilla ice cream courtesy of sponsor Calder Dairy.
The Elks Community Corn Roast, with proceeds going to scholarships sponsored by the Elks. With hundreds of ears of corn donated by our farmers, the event was timed to coincide with National Farmers Market Week.
POP! Club. This program for children, emphasizing the Power of Produce, returned in July with the first of three events, each featuring produce brought to market by our farmers. In July we talked about and tasted root vegetables; in August we figured out what’s a fruit and what’s a vegetable – if it has seeds inside, like tomatoes and eggplants, it’s a fruit – and in September we had fun with squash.
But our big day came during the October 30 Haunted Market, which itself was making its return from covid. Our Shoeboxes of Doom challenged kids to reach inside and identify which witch body part– each one portrayed by produce – was hidden inside. All POP! participants received $3 vouchers to shop the farmers’ stands, thanks to sponsors Beaumont and Farmington & Farmington Hills Foundation for Youths & Families. For more on POP!, click here.
And speaking of the Haunted Market, that popular event made its own big comeback with decorations, costumed vendors and treats for kids.
Among new programs, several stood out:
The Walkabouts. Our new walking group, led by Market volunteers Sandy Boland, Polly Varhol and Suzanne Clinton, was a smashing success. Each Saturday the group gathered at the Market and then headed out for a mile or mile-and-a-half trek around town, visiting historic neighborhoods, cemeteries, parks, all the elements that make up a community. At each site walkers would learn about the area they were visiting, often from local experts. More than three dozen people took part over the summer, walking a combined 657.5 miles and earning incentives along the way. For more on the Walkabouts, click here.
Mini-Clinic on Senior Health. Beaumont Health introduced this informative program that was well-received and showed great potential. We hope to see it grow and become a regular part of future seasons.
Patriot Day. For the first time the Market took special note of 9/11 on the actual day of its 20th anniversary. Members of Farmington and Farmington Hills Public Safety Departments solemnly rang the market bell at the times each of the four jets crashed while vendors and shoppers observed a moment of silence. Also, the Walkabouts visited Farmington’s 9/11 Memorial next to City Hall and heard from several city leaders who helped establish it. For more on Patriot Day, click here.
Special visitors. Speaking of Public Safety, we also enjoyed having members of Farmington’s finest at several markets along with vehicles that children could sit in and maybe dream a little.
And we welcomed new and established downtown businesses as well as various community groups who set up booths to interact with shoppers. They included Dearborn Music, Beyond Juicery and Eatery, Kickstart Art Gallery, Hewitt’s Music, Tolonen Family Pet Store, GLP Financial, AmeriCorps, Oakland County assistance programs and Visions Unlimited, a post-secondary educational program serving young adults with developmental and physical disabilities.
Gajewski said to expect new faces at vendor booths next summer. “We keep the Market fresh by rotating vendors,” he said. “Maybe you won’t find your favorite every week, but you might find a new one.”
New vendors this year included Artisun Bath and Skin Care, Grandma Lucky’s Dressings, Vogue Booge Candles, Bee in Kitchen with Thai spices and recipes, Drake’s English Toffee, Let’s Pop kettle corn, Sherman's Hot Tennessee Crackers, Wholeheartedly handmade earrings and Taurus Trading Co., offering masks, snack bags and even garments made from recycled fabric.
It all amounted to another amazing season for the Market and another banner for the Sundquist Pavilion rafters as we were named the Best Farmers Market in Metro Detroit for the fifth straight year. Thanks to all who made it possible. We can’t wait till next season when we can do it all again!
A great day of Greens, Gifts and Giving
By Walt Gajewski
November 27, 2021
There are four essential ingredients that make for a promising day at any farmers market: blue skies, sunshine, mild temperatures and no wind. Along the course of the season, a good handful of markets so blessed is something to be grateful for. Of course, if I had to pick just one of those fair-weather ingredients, I would say, “Give me no wind!”
So on Saturday, November 27, as my pickup truck groaned to life in a morning of unseasonably low temps – to the tune of 25 degrees, no less – and with full knowledge that the highs for the day would be only a whisker or two higher, I caught myself exclaiming with a frosty roar: “It’s freezing!” My breath billowed a fog on the windshield.
But I smiled. The skies were wanting to be blue while holding a reddish cast in the early rise of a new day in a still sleeping town. The neighborhoods were so quiet. And there was no wind. Not even a whisper.
As I wheeled into the market, though, I found a whirlwind of activity. Firewood was being prepped for bonfires while farmers unloaded fresh-made wreaths and holiday greens. The coffee vendor was everybody’s favorite, coming out early to have fresh, hot coffee on hand as we all made ready for the annual holiday farmers market we call Greens, Gifts & Giving.
By 10 a.m., the snow forecasted for 3 p.m. had started. It was beautiful. Then people began arriving. Carolers strolled in. A violinist played his heart out to “Christmas in Killarney.” Shoppers filled the market. By day’s end, we would learn that upwards of 1,800 people came to visit, share smiles and fill their market bags with good food, holiday treats and gifts.
Our fish vendor sold out, our pastie vendor sold out, our chocolate chip cookie vendor sold out. And the Farmington Elks – well, they served up gallons of chili, donated by the town pub, John Cowley & Sons, with all proceeds going to charity. And right down to the last ladle, all the chili was served.
The snow was coming down harder. We laughed and sang and loved it all as we lived a scene from Christmases long, long ago.
And there was nary a breath of wind.
Happy holidays! See you next spring!
Winner and still champion!
For the fifth year in a row, the Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market has been voted the Best Farmers Market in Metro Detroit in WDIV's Vote for the Best contest! Thank you all for your support! We could not have done it without the best customers in the metro area.
And we promise to not rest on our laurels but continue to build on our success. Just visit us any Saturday from now through October to see.
We're also pleased to welcome Riley Park, which is part of our home in downtown Detroit, to the winners circle as Best Outdoor Concert Venue. And congrats go to the Farmington Civic Theater, which repeats as Best Movie Theater, and Farmington's Dagwood's Deli for Best Sandwich Shop.
We are a rain-or-shine Market
Just a reminder: We are a rain-or-shine market, so all our farmers and most of our vendors will be open for business as usual this Saturday and every Saturday through October regardless of the weather. Check the forecasts so you can dress appropriately.
Covid updates: No more masks
Here’s our latest update on Covid regulations from the Michigan Farmers Market Association as of June 1:
Masks are no long required, even for the non-vaccinated. For those who feel safer with masks, free ones will be available at the Information Tent, located just south of the pavilion.
There will no longer be formal entrances and exits or closed-off pathways.
Hand-sanitizers will be available around the market, but there will be no hand-washing stations.
Restrooms will be open to the public.
Dogs are welcome in Riley Park only.
Riley Park tells the tale
There have been rough times at the Market since May 2020. But lots of great times, too. One of the best occurred on Saturday, May 22, when Riley Park, that expanse of green just north of the pavilion. was, well, almost crowded. Not dangerously packed, mind you, but with just enough people to make it look like a normal Market Saturday.
Masked and maskless people were sitting on benches, chatting. Young couples were strolling on the beautiful green grass. Children were scampering about, playing corn hole or just exploring. Families were gathered for a what might have been a chance to catch their breath from what has been a crazy life.
It was a great sign that everyone's diligence and dedication are finally paying off. The vaccines are working. Masks are still working. Social distancing when possible is working. And slowly normalcy is returning.
Welcome once again to Saturday in a Michigan small town.
Rousing Opening Day kicks off a new market season
The sun wasn't the only thing shining on Saturday, May 8, when the Farmington Farmers Market opened its 28th season on a day that seemed more than a year from last year's subdued Covid-restricted opening day.
A full color guard from American Legion Groves Walker Post 346 and disciplined drum corps from Farmington High School set an upbeat tone for this year's event, which was ably emceed by Paul Gross, WDIV weathercaster and Farmington area resident.
Andrew Neer, composer and orchestral conductor, delivered an inspiring performance of the National Anthem, after which Farmington Mayor Sara Bowman welcomed a large, enthusiastic crowd to downtown's Sundquist Pavilion and Riley Park.
Other guest speakers included Robb Harper, founder of Edible WOW magazine; Kim Guesman, Beaumont Hospital's chief nursing officer who was served on the front line in the battle against the coronavirus; Todd Lippa, director of C.A.R.E.S. of Farmington Hills, and Henry Francis, the market's youngest volunteer.
After the speakers, Miss Farmington Emma Hahn, with help from Guesman, rang the market bell to officially open the season that welcomed a largee and enthusiastic crowd that made last spring's opener a distant memory.
Market Walking Club offers fitness and history
Walking returns to the Farmington Farmers Market this season, under the guidance of three volunteers who have logged plenty of miles around the community.
Sandy Boland and her friends Suzanne Clinton and Polly Varhol will lead the new Walkabouts Farmers Market Walking Club, coordinated with Americorps and Beaumont Health. Walkers will meet at the information tent for the 10 a.m. tours.
“I just love walking around Farmington, and Suzanne and Polly know a lot about Farmington history,” Boland said. “This is what the market is all about, healthy food and healthy living.”
Walking and history
The team has developed half a dozen routes that range from one to one-and-a-half miles. Boland said each will include two Farmington landmarks.
On Opening Day, walkers will see a Civil War-era home, built in 1863, and learn more about Heeney-Sundquist Funeral Home, which opened in 1850 as Michigan’s first funeral service provider. Future stops will include Oakwood Cemetery, the downtown Farmington library, Farmington City Hall, and the Quaker Cemetery.
The goal for the season is to complete 24 miles. Walkers who sign in and record their progress will receive incentives for completing each 8-mile leg of the journey.
‘A more concentrated effort’
Boland said guest walkers will also make each event more interesting. First up is Farmington Mayor Sara Bowman, who was part of a previous attempt to get a regular fit walk going.
“It was tough to get people to lead,” she said. “This is a more concentrated effort to put it out there so people know they can rely on it.”
The walks, Bowman said, are not just about getting fit, but also camaraderie and building community. It’s another opportunity for people to gather, a Farmington tradition.
“It’s been a long winter and tough on families. We’ve missed a lot,” she said. “Having the Farmers Market, it’s a community event where we get to see our friends and neighbors.”
How to get involved
To join the opening day walkers, just show up at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 8, at the information booth. The Farmington Farmers Market is open Saturdays, May through October, at the Walter Sundquist Farmington Pavilion and Riley Park in downtown Farmington.
Story courtesy of Joni Hubred, Farmington Voice
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!
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.