The Farmington Farmers Market on Monday received official approval for its 2020 calendar, which opens on May 16 and closes with the annual Haunted Market on October 31.
Celebrating its 27th year, the Saturday market will welcome its one millionth visitor this year, market master Walt Gajewski told council members during their 7 p.m. meeting. Numbers he provided showed the market has, over the past nine years, been profitable and contributed to the city’s General Fund.
“There are no taxpayer dollars that support the market,” Gajewski said. Financial support comes mostly from sponsors (more than 40 percent), vendor fees, and special events.
Among the 2020 market goals:
- On-going education about parking
- Market vendor farm inspections
- Fostering a weekly walking group, which follows a one-mile route around downtown Farmington
- Identify needed upgrades and improvements to the Walter Sundquist Farmington Pavilion
- Reducing use of plastic bags
Gajewski also plans to produce a 3-minute video to promote the market, and to retain its title as the public’s favorite farmers market in WDIV-TV’s “4 The Best” competition. Also this year, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra has offered to bring in an “instrument zoo”.
The market welcomes around 40 vendors each week, and a total of 100 during the season, with help from around two dozen volunteers. Average attendance in 2019 set a record, at 3,266 visitors per week. About two thirds come from Farmington and Farmington Hills, the rest from Novi, Livonia, Southfield, Bloomfield/West Bloomfield, Northville, and other communities.
Gajewski attributes the growth of visitors from Farmington Hills to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. He said people know that what they can’t get at the market, they’ll probably find just a few dozen steps away at the organic grocery store – making Farmington “Market Town”.
“We play off each other,” he said.
Council member Joe LaRussa asked whether conditions in Riley Park had an impact on last year’s market. Gajewski acknowledged the challenge in moving from ice rink season to park season, but said the market typically doesn’t use the park until the August Corn Roast.
“Do we get complaints? Sure. It is what it is,” he said.
Gajewski would also like to see merchants more involved with a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) program that offers a free market bag to those who bring in receipts from downtown business purchases made on market day. He suggested putting coupons or flyers in the bags.
The program has proved successful, and may help reduce the use of plastic bags. The DDA had to place a second, mid-season order for last year’s “Turnip the Beet” bags, Gajewski said.
To learn more about the market, visit farmingtonfarmersmarket.com.