Oakland County Market extends hours for season

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published April 25, 2016

 Though there aren’t many fruits and veggies at the market yet, there are tons of flowers for planting and gifting.

Though there aren’t many fruits and veggies at the market yet, there are tons of flowers for planting and gifting.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


WATERFORD — It’s always market season out at the Oakland County Market.

While the nearly 100-year-old farmers market is open year-round, things really ramp up during the spring and summer, when fresh flowers and locally grown produce pack the stalls.

Starting next weekend, the market will return to its warm-weather hours, open 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through December.

Market Manager Jeremy Brown said there should be plenty of goodies for shoppers to choose from when they come out this spring.

“We have the pansies and the willows, though I can’t really say we have any produce yet,” Brown said. “But soon the asparagus and strawberries will be coming.”

Last year, attendance at the 14-acre market was down slightly since the long winter wreaked havoc on the start of the produce season. But the vendors — selling everything from artisan soaps, giftware and baked goods to fresh flowers, vegetables and fruit — were there and ready to sell, and they’ll be back again.

“The first couple weeks we come back to market it’s like visiting old family and friends: just lots of hugs and smiles and catching up,” said Melissa Renner, with Prielipp Farms in Britton. “It’s always nice to come back to that, and we’re excited about what we’ve got right now.”

Until the veggies are ready to sell, Prielipp is selling a wide range of herbs and flowers. Renner said the flowers, particularly the perennials, are looking the best she’s seen in some time.

“We’re excited about a brand-new line of corabells and a new line of coleus,” she said. “And the annuals in flats and hanging baskets look super right now, just premium. And our succulents are cheap beyond words. We’ve got really sharp-looking succulent bowls and fish gardens, which would make great gift items for Mother’s Day if you don’t want to do the usual hanging plant.”

While the vendors are focusing on their wares, Brown is trying to draw attention to the market’s huge schedule of programming. It’s the selection of no-cost cooking demonstrations, kids’ activities and educational presentations that draw first-time market guests out to the Waterford site.

“The first one is the spring flower day sale on May 22. We’ll have a lot of our regular vendors there, but we’re also adding other garden art vendors and changing it up from the everyday market,” he said. “We’re doing three food truck rallies this year, which really have a following of their own. We’ll do two community garage sales, master gardeners’ programs, Michigan State University Extension programs; the Oakland Conservation District will be here and the county Health Department.”

The goal, Brown explained, is to make the market a destination not just for fresh and affordable produce, but for connecting to neighbors.

“It gives people the opportunity to get together and socialize. We really started all these special events to create awareness for the market, but the more we built these relationships with different groups, the more they ran with it,” he said.

Brown and other members of Oakland County Parks and Recreation have worked hard to draw awareness to the market since the department took over operations from the county in 2012.

Oakland County Parks and Recreation Executive Director Dan Stencil is pleased with the progress they’ve made in four short years.

“The parks system is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the market gives residents the opportunity to experience the agrarian history of Oakland County,” Stencil said. “At one time, probably the majority of Oakland County was farms, and so every day this market is open it takes us back to yesteryear, when farming was the primary source of employment. It also gives future generations the chance to understand where their food comes from — it doesn’t necessarily always come through a grocery store.”

The Oakland County Market is open 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from May to December. For more information or a full schedule of special events and programming, call (248) 858-5495 or visit www.destinationoakland.com.

The market is located at 2350 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford.

Tips from the market manager
• For crowd-free shopping, visit the Oakland County Market on a Thursday. All the regular weekend vendors will be there, with less than half the crowd.

• Saturdays in May and June are the busiest. If you’re nervous about crowds or finding parking, come early, around 7-9 a.m., or late, around 11 a.m. or 1 p.m.

• To find out when your favorite fruits and vegetables will be at the market, go to www.destinationoakland.com and click on the market page. You’ll find a month-by-month guide to seasonal produce, provided by the Michigan State University Extension.