The Farmington Farmers Market was recently named the winner of ClickonDetroit’s “Vote 4 the Best” farmers market. This is the market’s third consecutive year being awarded the title.

The Farmington Farmers Market was recently named the winner of ClickonDetroit’s “Vote 4 the Best” farmers market. This is the market’s third consecutive year being awarded the title.

Photo by Jonathan Shead


Changes ‘magnetize’ popular Farmington Farmers Market

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published August 6, 2019

 Market attendees stop by various vendor stands to look at the products at the Farmington Farmers Market July 27.

Market attendees stop by various vendor stands to look at the products at the Farmington Farmers Market July 27.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

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FARMINGTON — Fresh produce, food vendors, artisan crafts and music aren’t all that’s on offer at the Farmington Farmers Market.

Visitors can also find a sense of community at the market in downtown Farmington’s Riley Park Sundquist Pavilion.

The market, now in its 26th year, was named the winner of ClickonDetroit’s “Vote 4 the Best” award for its third consecutive year, but market General Manager Walt Gajewski, who’s been managing the market since 2011, said it wasn’t always this way.

“It feels as if it’s been a very long road to get to that point, and a lot of good things have to happen in order for that to occur,” Gajewski said. “We couldn’t be the best farmers market without the best vendors, the best volunteers, and the best support from our community and the city. … It makes me feel grateful.”

Gajewski said roughly 65% of market attendees live in Farmington or Farmington Hills, with the other 35% coming from neighboring communities like Novi and Livonia. Overall, market attendance averages about 80,000 people a year.

Gajewski said residents take pride in their local market.

“There’s a lot of local pride that goes into supporting the farmers market,” he said. “And we kind of have a kinship between the three communities with respect to having direct access to fresh local produce and supporting local farmers.”

Eric Peterson, the owner of Petey’s Donuts, which has been a vendor at the market for five years, agreed.

“When it comes to these people here to vote on their market, they jump right on it because they love it here,” Peterson said. “People in this town are so faithful to the farmers here and all the other vendors that, barring a tornado siren, these people will stand in the rain. They don’t care — they’re here rain or shine.”

Since Gajewski joined as general manager, the market has been able to increase its vendors to roughly 40 rotating vendors per week, with approximately 18 Michigan-based growers and producers — triple the number since he started — and a complete roster of vendors sitting at about 95.

Despite feeling a bit burdened about having to rotate in new vendors each week, Gajewski said it’s never a bad problem to have.

“There’s always a reason to come to the market. You’re never going to find the same thing there week after week. It’s always going to be something different,” he said.

Laura Harris, 22, of Livonia, has been coming to the market almost every Saturday for the last four years. She believes the increase in vendors has been an improvement to the market over the years.

“I definitely think it’s improved because there’s a lot more vendors; there’s more options and different vegetables,” she said.

Access to fresh food and a general focus on being a food-based market is something Gajewski said the market has been working toward for a while. Working alongside co-presenting market sponsors Fresh Thyme and Beaumont Health, market organizers hope to provide a space where people can gain access to better education about fitness and health.

“Over time the community has developed a fondness for the farmers market being more of a food-based market,” he said. “Together, we (Fresh Thyme, Beaumont Health and the farmers market) joined forces to create this three-legged stool, which is basically laying down a long-term effort to build a platform of fitness, wellness and nutrition, and people really seem to take to that.”

Gajewski explained that outside of Saturday market days, the market provides health screenings, cooking demonstrations, market walks, 5K runs, an annual fitness and health fair, and more.

The market has also partnered with various state and national programs to support continued education and access to fresh food, such as Senior Project Fresh, a USDA state of Michigan-funded program that offers fresh produce to qualifying seniors, and the national Power of Produce program, which educates children ages 4-12 on where the food they eat comes from.

As Gajewski hopes to continue to grow the market, he hopes to bring in new vendors, especially more culturally diverse vendors to highlight the cultural diversity of the community, and to provide a space where everyone feels welcome.

“It’s all about creating an experience for people,” he said. “That has really become the foundation of the market. It’s a place for all, young and old. All races and all people are welcome at the market, and people are magnetized to that.”

Detroit may be known as Hockeytown but as Gajewski likes to say, “Welcome to Market Town.”

“We certainly like to think we offer an unparalleled access to good food,” he added.

The Farmington Farmers Market runs 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 26. For more information on the market, visit www.farmingtonfarmersmarket.com.

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