This week, we’re publishing a series of posts expressing gratitude for some of the things in Farmington and Farmington Hills that bring us together. With help from our supporters, we’ve chosen six, but there are many, many more. Join the #F2HGratitude conversation Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Make sure you catch all of our posts by signing up for our daily (except Sunday) emails.
Launched with a small group of vendors in the Village Commons parking lot, the Farmington Farmers and Artisans Market has over the past 13 years become an iconic community builder.
“Come experience Saturday life in a Michigan small town,” has become a mantra for market manager Walt Gajewski, who took the helm in 2013 when control shifted from the Farmington Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to the City of Farmington. He manages a cadre of more than 30 volunteers who work from 6:30 a.m. to keep the market running smoothly.
The market’s evolution really began in 2005, when the Walter E. Sundquist Farmington Pavilion and Riley Park first opened in what had been a section of the Downtown Farmington Center parking lot south of Grand River.
“That pavilion and park … are the focal point of the downtown,” Farmington economic and community development director Kevin Christiansen told MetroMode in August. “It’s the community’s gathering place. It’s our town square.”
Market vendors – some of whom have been active since its inception – typically set up inside the pavilion and on a concrete apron and parking area to the south. But for larger events, like the Harvest market held during September’s Harvest Moon celebration, tents spill out into the park.
Growers come from a 60-mile radius, bringing a wide selection of Michigan produce that peaks mid- to late summer. Other vendors offer hand-crafted soaps, jewelry, gifts, and specialty foods. In recent years, the market has promoted “healthy lifestyle” programs, partnering with Beaumont Health, Farmington-Farmington Hills Neighborhood House, the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, and Senior Project Fresh.
The Farmington Farmers and Artisans Market typically celebrates opening day in mid-May and closes its regular season in early November, then opens the first Saturday in December for a Gifts, Greens & Giving market during downtown Farmington’s Holly Days celebration.
This year’s holiday market, held Saturday, Dec. 2, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., features fresh wreaths, roping and centerpieces from Michigan farms, seasoned firewood, vendors, strolling carolers, free gift wrapping, and a Christmas train for children from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The market will collect nonperishable food items for the Farmington Area Goodfellows holiday drive, and Page’s Food & Spirits will be serving up chili with proceeds going to Neighborhood House.
Next in our #F2H Gratitude series: Working together in downtown Farmington