Farmington farmers market to celebrate 25 years in style  

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published May 15, 2018

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FARMINGTON — They’re used to kicking it old-school style, so to speak. 

The Farmington Farmers and Artisans Market, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this weekend, emanates the feel of a bygone era: the early days, when Farmington itself was founded as a town. Think 1824.

It was a time when people gathered to exchange goods and services, all while building a community. 

That simple essence of community is what Market Manager Walt Gajewski thrives on. 

“We got some good momentum going here,” Gajewski said. “I think the Farmington Farmers Market is going to be very popular in the metro Detroit area this summer.”

Opening day of the market will run 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. May 19 at the Walter E. Sundquist Pavilion in Riley Park, 33113 Grand River Ave.

Opening day typically attracts over 2,500 people, and it includes a celebration to observe Armed Services Day, as well as Flower Day at the market.

This year’s theme is “Swing into Spring,”  Gajewski said. A drumline, a color guard and the national anthem will start the festivities at 9 a.m.

Swing Farmington will be on-site with lessons, and Peterlin’s Restaurant & Bar will conduct a cooking demonstration. 

Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills, will offer free health screenings, and children’s activities will be open all day.

Got an appetite? Hot dogs from the Groves-Walker American Legion Post 346 will be served.

The ringing of the market bell will ring in the market’s first day.

Gajewski said that ultimately, the Farmers Market is about volunteers, attendees and support from local farmers, who bring in good products, good services and a “welcoming smile.”

Romeo-based farmer Bill Gass is one of the many farmers who has strong roots at the market.

Gass is into vegetable farming and has brought his goods to the market since around 1994.

From cherry tomatoes to cucumbers to pickles and summer squash, Gass brings “the works.” 

“We just love doing it; we love the people. The people are great over there. They support us very well.”

Gass said that he sells a lot of lettuce, red tomatoes, sweet corn and more.

He said produce transportation is just as important as presentation.

“The lettuce, we pick the night before and we put it in a cooler — we have big coolers and load (them) in the truck at 4 a.m.” on market day, he said. “They get it in within 12 to 15 hours of being picked. … that is a biggie for us.”

Gajewski said that the number of farmers at the market has increased. In 1993, there were three farmers — now there are up to 15 farmers, bringing variety and stability to the market, he said.

“They are spread out — we have distances of about 120 miles between any given two farmers,” he said.

Market volunteer Peggy Castine, of Farmington, is a longtime customer-turned-volunteer who now spends her time at the market’s information tent.

“I spend a couple hours every Saturday in the information tent, which is a variety of answering questions and things,” she said. “I’m also starting to branch out to do a little bit more — it is kind of whatever they need.”

Castine became a volunteer two years ago, after being a customer since the market’s inception.

“It’s a great place to spend a few hours on a Saturday,” she said, adding that she retired a year ago. “That gives me time to volunteer, and that is (the) perfect place.”

She typically buys whatever is in season: green tomatoes, flowers and more.

“I love the fruit stands that have the raspberries, strawberries,” she said. “Just about anything.”

The market runs 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays May 19-Oct. 27.

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