With attendance soaring and a continued focus on safe operations, the Farmington Farmers Market will expand its downtown footprint starting Saturday.
Market Master Walt Gajewski said the westward expansion onto Market Street (from Starbucks to Tubby’s) was driven by the move into peak produce season and market attendance growing from 546 on opening day to 2,542 on June 13.
“With that data point and looking ahead to more farmers coming on with a full complement of Michigan produce, what’s the next step?” Gajewski said. “It came for us in the form of a city council resolution.”
On June 1, Farmington officials temporarily relaxed restrictions to allow outdoor sales and services for businesses across the city. The move will help shops and restaurants – and the Farmers Market – comply with capacity restrictions designed to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Christiansen said Gajewski has been “very diligent” about communicating with city administration, Public Safety, Public Works, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and coordinating with volunteers to ensure the market stays within state guidelines, even as it has grown and added more elements.
In addition, officials cleared the move west – which will close Market Street from early morning to 2 p.m. on Saturdays through October – with Downtown Farmington Center owner Glen Una Management, and Mid-America Property Management.
“We coordinated with everyone who has an interest in the Center, and all indicated they support the move,” Christiansen said. “The closure is two-fold. This is also an area identified for a possible expansion for outdoor food, dining, and personal services.”
‘A godsend for the market’
Each week has brought something new to the market, from a “mini Flower Day” and more vendors, to seating in Riley Park and allowing prepared food sales, as with Petey’s Donuts. This week, more than 30 vendors will participate, including new additions Trillium Woodfarm, Joseph’s Wooden Bowls, Moose Creek Metals, Prairie Home & Garden, The Vines of Farmington, and Knot Bakery.
(For a full list of vendors, visit farmingtonfarmersmarket.com/COVID-19-Updates/Thank-you!.aspx)
Safety protocols have largely remained the same, including limited access points, face masks, hand-washing stations, and social distancing between customers and vendors.
“Social distancing is part of today and very likely part of our tomorrow,” Gajewski said. “We have to adjust in order to live with it.”
The ability to move into the street, he said, has been “a godsend for the market.” While the market has traditionally grown through crowd building, “now it’s more a grab-and-go mentality. A thinner looking market is a safer market.”
“Each time we have made a change, the community has responded very well,” Gajewski said. “We are confident they’ll also be appreciative of our latest efforts.”
“The focus has been to have the best market that Farmington can,” Christiansen said. “We’re looking forward to the Farmington Farmers Market being voted again as the best market in metro Detroit.”
The Farmington Farmers Market is open 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through October at the Walter Sundquist Farmington Pavilion and Riley Park. For more information, including a list of “dos and dont’s”, visit farmingtonfarmersmarket.com.