Farmers market beefs up programming

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published May 13, 2015


FARMINGTON — Walt Gajewski, Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market manager, wants the public to get into the swing of things with the upcoming farmers market.

With the theme “Swing into Spring,” Gajewski is looking forward to the May 16-Nov. 7 season at the Walter E. Sundquist Pavilion in George F. Riley Park, 33314 Grand River Ave.

“We’re entering the 22nd year, and we are going to be offering a lot more programming and events this year than we have in the past,” Gajewski said recently. “What we want to do is focus on the market being not only a place to find access to fresh Michigan produce, but also to have the market back as a hub or community resource for information.”

Opening day begins at 8:50 a.m. May 16 with a color guard and drumline march into the market. The event will then feature the traditional ringing of the market bell at around 9 a.m.

“We’ve had such a long winter, and everybody is eager to go outside,” Gajewski said.

Opening day will also feature Swing Farmington, a weekly swing dance group that meets from 8:30-11 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 22 at the Sundquist Pavilion. From 10 a.m.-1 p.m. opening day, the group will swing dance and provide free lessons.

Gajewski said that with the typical market customer being over 35 years old, it makes sense to enter into a partnership with Swing Farmington, which pulls a younger demographic.

“The Swing Farmington group is looking to expand its demographics and attract people of all ages; the market is also looking to appeal to younger people, especially new people who may be new to the community,” he said. “We think it is going to broaden our customer base and help spread the word about what a great market we have.”

Swing Farmington organizer Alexander Steward said the group is counting down the days until May 16.

“It is going to be a lot of fun,” he said recently. “I love the farmers market and Farmington. It felt really nice to (be invited) to opening day. It is one of the best times to go because so much stuff is going on. We’re just really appreciative to be there. One of our hopes is that more people in the community of all ages will hear about us and come up and check (us) out.”

From planting workshops to chef demos, this year’s lineup is  chock full of new and classic activities.

Companion Planting Workshop with Victoria’s Garden is for scheduled 9:30-10 a.m. May 23. The Farmington Fit as a Fiddle Health Fair Day is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.-noon May 30.

Gajewski said he is excited to work with local health care providers for the May 30 event, the market’s inaugural health fair day. The event includes fitness experts, nurses, dietitians and a 1-mile fitness walk and talk.

“It is really about it all goes back to our theme of the market being a community hub,” Gajewski said. “A place for wayfinding in the community for valuable products and services … conveniently located within the greater Farmington area. We’re trying to firmly entrench ourselves as a destination market and destination community.”

Market mainstays include a chef cooking series, live music from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, and a children’s activity corner.

The market has an average of 40 vendors per week, and 85 vendors overall, who are rotated on a weekly basis to “keep the market fresh and exciting,” Gajewski said.

Described as a dedicated volunteer, Mary Burck, of Farmington Hills, has volunteered at the market since 2004.

“I have seen the evolution of the market, and it is really neat,” Burck said. “They have a lot of intergenerational opportunities. The market has got a lot of activities this year.”

Burck added that she volunteers because she likes to learn what is going on in the community.

“There is a lot of really nice people,” she said. “It is a way to meet people, and I just really like the market atmosphere of the fresh veggies and cooking demos and the music. I miss it over the months that it is gone.”

The market is open from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays.

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