It was middle March of this year when Farmington Mayor Sara Bowman, City Manager David Murphy and I made a decision to open the farmers market as the virus forced its way into the collective lives of our community, like a cold rain that catches you out without a proper coat.
You’re just plain stuck in it. But we didn’t run.
It was in April that I stripped the remaining bark off the market’s budget in an effort to stem steep anticipated operating losses. With reliance on sponsors for support and with so many businesses shuttered, knocking on doors for help seemed like a feeble undertaking. At best.
In early May, market volunteer coordinator Mary Martin put out a call for volunteer help, with no promises that anyone would come forward to risk their health – at a time when staying healthy was pre-eminent on people’s minds.
At May’s end I called the farmers into a circle. We had just come through a heavy late spring frost. Crops were set back. Way back. Operating restrictions out of Lansing were handed down like bricks. I had no experience at this sort of thing…I suggested to our farmers that maybe we draw straws to see which farms might have to stay home.
And yet, thankfully, the people here in the community came to market on Saturdays. And they brought with them what we needed from all of us together: a willing resolve to light the lamp of Saturday life in this Michigan small town. Local businesses and institutions sent checks to help seed operations. Volunteers raised their hands. The farmers were steadfast in keeping their hands in the fields.
In a year that many would put under a broom, I am proud to say that here in Farmington, we quietly put on our masks and went to work. Together, we would come to know, grow and share abundance. An abundance of food, an abundance of community spirit. For this, I am grateful, and for this, I offer thanks, for all the giving:
Thank you, Mayor Bowman, Farmington City Council, Public Works, Public Safety, City Hall and the Downtown Development Authority. There would not be a market without the city opening its arms with a welcome gesture.
Thank you to our community sponsors: Wright Beamer Attorneys, Beaumont Health, Fresh Thyme Market, Farmington Insurance, the Farmington Garage, Essential Family Chiropractic, Tom Holzer Ford, the accountants at Montgomery, Wiethorn, Burke, Mackinder & Dye, Waug’s Electric, Great Lakes Ace, The Calder Dairy, and Lake Michigan Credit Union. Together, they all helped mightily with the re-opening of the greater Farmington area as a weekend destination of choice.
Thank you to the volunteers, who spent six months of Saturdays starting at sunup, helping people feel welcome and safe in downtown Farmington.
And thank you, all of you who faithfully came to market wearing your masks so that everyone might have a chance to take home the good food from our Michigan farms.
Farmington Farmers Market Manager Walt Gajewski