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From the Manager:
What it took to get to Opening Day

I had the virus.  

I picked up a chill on St. Patrick’s Day (that’s how I remember the date) that wouldn’t go away, even though my temperature peaked at just over 100. After a trip to the doctor and a week to get results, I was confirmed positive with the coronavirus.  

Oh, the fatigue that came with it! Getting out of bed and making it to a chair in the same room a few feet away was like planning for a long trip – exhausting.  The fever would ramp itself up and down, day after day, while my senses of smell and taste just up and disappeared.  Everything tasted like salt!  I lost 12 pounds.  Covid toes? Yes, I had that weird frostbite-like tingling in both feet. 

In the middle of all this, sick at home, I still had to work – arranging for conference calls with area market managers, contacting state agencies, following up on executive orders issue by the Governor’s office.  A week with the virus was making me weaker.  I cancelled a conference call and then another until I finally forced myself – I remember, with my head in my hands, bent over at my desk – to make one more call. It would be the one that would lift my spirits and put the Farmington Farmers Market on the path to its scheduled opening this Saturday, May 16th.   

That call would give me the information I urgently needed: that, under the Governor’s executive orders, farmers markets were considered essential and therefore were allowed to operate. They were.  With this information in hand, and after discussions with Farmington city leaders including the mayor, we made a steadfast decision to open the greater Farmington community to obtaining fresh, nutritious, locally grown Michigan produce as we have been doing without interruption for the past 26 years.  

But what about the virus?

My personal bout ended after a quarantine that lasted until the first week of April. I came out of it virus-free and strong again.  Good thing – there was work to do. I called our farmers and rallied local volunteers.  I scheduled fact-delivering webinars while following the best-practice of markets working to open all across the country.  I worked with the Michigan Farmers Market Association and Michigan Department of Agriculture to learn how to open a market during a worldwide pandemic.

When we open this Saturday, we will be smaller.  What might have been a market with 50 vendors now has only 15.  We have been charged with being efficient and essential, with a focus on whole, uncut produce and pre-packaged prepared foods.  Social distancing, hand-washing stations and managed attendance will make for a safe albeit surreal experience as tables and chairs will be put aside. No dogs will be allowed.  Only one member per family at a time inside, and you cannot bring your own reusable market bag.  No live music.  No open food consumption and – this comes with a heavy heart – no Petey’s Donuts.  Let’s face it, this is our reality now:  No mask, no service.    

Healthy once more, I am heading out into the fight flanked by farmers, volunteers, city leaders, committed sponsors and a community that I know is yearning for the return of “Saturday life in a Michigan small town.”  To that I can say: The market will open in this Michigan small town come Saturday.  Everything seems to be in pieces like a puzzle that wants to be a picture.  Come to market, be a piece of the puzzle and a part of that picture.  You know, on opening day, we have a bell that we ring to open the market, and I’m going to pull on that bell like never before for all who make it possible for me to say: “See you at the market …”

A special heartfelt thank you must go out to our sponsors – the local businesses who, in spite of so much uncertainty, financial distress, and personal risks, are holding tightly to the market as if to affirm that they stand resolutely behind our community.  Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Fresh Thyme; the wise counselors at Wright Beamer Attorneys; the fighting accountants at Montgomery, Wiethorn, Burke, Mackinder & Dye; Farmington Insurance; the Farmington Garage; Dr. Natalie at Essential Family Chiropractic, and the Holzer Ford Family – thank you all for your years of continuing support.  In joining the effort to keep the light shining on our community jewel, let’s also welcome new sponsors Waug’s Electric Service of Farmington Hills and the Lake Michigan Credit Union.   

 

Walt Gajewski
Market Manager

Market Manager, Walt Gajewski    

 
The Farmington Farmers Market is located at Grand River and Grove Street in downtown Farmington and is free and open to the public seasonally mid-May through October.  

If you have any additional questions, comments or suggestions about the market feel free to email us at market@downtownfarmington.org or click here to find us on Facebook at Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market. Please Like Us on Facebook so we can keep you updated on "Saturday life in a Michigan small town!"