Downtown Farmington barber brings unique treat to Holly Days

If you’ve had a haircut with Mike LaFever at Korner Barbers, chances are, you’ve learned something about chestnuts.

In addition to his 40-year career in the shop at Grand River and Farmington Road, LaFever is an experienced chestnut grower with 300 trees on his farm in Fenton. He’ll be roasting chestnuts at the Greens, Gifts, and Giving Market held Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Walter E. Sundquist Farmington Pavilion in downtown Farmington.

“My father and I started planting trees in 1997,” he said. “We were looking for a niche… there aren’t many chestnut growers out there.”

LaFever Chestnut Farm
Visitors to LaFever Chestnut Farm learn how to roast chestnuts. (Mike LaFever)

Since adding “you-pick” to the operation about 13 years ago – at the suggestion of a visiting journalist – business has “just exploded,” LaFever said.

“It’s an international crowd,” he added. “I’ve met more people of different nationalities than at any other time in my life.”

LaFever said bringing his chestnut roasting operation to Farmington gives the customers who’ve listened to his stories an opportunity to taste the sweet nuts. Before roasting, he scores the shells so they don’t explode, then applies some heat.

And there’s a secret to eating chestnuts: Peel them first.

“The moisture inside loosens the shell,” he said. “You need to peel the thing while it’s hot, and then you get a sweet tasting nut.”

30-plus vendors, music, and giving

LaFever will be among 30-plus vendors at the holiday market, which is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Market master Walt Gajewski said shoppers will find fresh wreaths, roping, centerpieces, artisan wares, specialty foods and more.

“From eclectic finds to vintage gems to aromatic salts of the earth, finding that special gift will be a local delight,” he said. “And yes, we even thought of the ‘ugly sweater’ shopper.”

With an outdoor fire blazing, strolling carolers will sing holiday favorites. Hot food vendors include The Peoples Pierogi Collective and regular-season market favorite Petey’s Donuts. Also, volunteers will serve up hot, adult beverages at the Holly Days Inn, sponsored by Detroit Eatz.

The “giving” aspect of the market includes a fundraiser for CARES in Farmington Hills, hosted by Page’s Food & Spirits. The downtown Farmington restaurant will serve up its award-winning chili in exchange for donations that benefit the nonprofit, which supports hundreds of local families with a food pantry, clothing bank, and more.

To learn more about the Greens, Gifts, and Giving Market, and for a complete list of vendors, visit farmingtonfarmersmarket.com.