One month after launch, city praises farmers market

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published July 2, 2015

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The new Sterling Heights Farmers Market at Dodge Park has already had a bumper crop of success, according to city officials.

Sterling Heights Parks and Recreation Department Recreation Manager Kyle Langlois said the weekly market, which runs from 3-8 p.m. on Thursdays, has been a hit despite some recent rainy weather. The market opened for the first time at Dodge Park in Sterling Heights on June 4.

“From our perspective, the farmers market has been a success, basing it on foot traffic, basing it on the fact that our parking lots are all packed,” he said.

Langlois said the weekly event’s popularity has well surpassed the benchmark the city originally had in mind when it marketed the idea during a strategic planning period — when it originally only expected 10,000 people to visit from its opening until its seasonal closing at the end of October.

“We estimate about 12,000 to 13,000 people came through and walked through it in the first four weeks,” he said. “It appears that the vendors are selling a lot of products. ... We are certainly filling a need in the community.”

Langlois said that more than 30 vendors, farmers, producers and local artisans have set up shop at the market each week, with recent numbers ranging from 35 to almost 40. The city originally had expected only 15 to 20 per week in the first year, he explained.

He said the city is thinking up plans to expand in the event that the current interest and foot traffic are sustained, which could address issues such as parking and sufficient restrooms.

“As this grows larger than the area that we allotted for, I think we’re very seriously going to have to look at more permanent locations for the market,” he said.

Langlois said the market could also offer special events in the future or extend the city’s Music in the Park concert series, which runs this year in June and July. This year, the city arranged the farmers market and the concert series so that they overlap in Dodge Park.

“The synergy between the two events has been fantastic,” he said. “Numbers are up for the concerts, as well.”

According to Sterling Heights Mayor Pro Tem Doug Skrzyniarz, one of the best things to come out of the new farmers market is its role as a meeting place among families, friends and neighbors.

“It’s kind of increasing our community mentality and opportunity to get together and such,” he said.

Skrzyniarz said demand in the market shows an interest in local and organic produce, and demand is likely to only go up as the upcoming harvest brings in more crops for sale.

“The vendors have been consistently selling out their products,” he said. “We haven’t really had a ton of produce yet.

“To have this kind of demand — it’s early in the season — without having a plethora of options for produce really (suggests) great things for the future. We’re going to get that much more in demand when the produce is there.”

Learn more about the Sterling Heights Farmers Market by visiting www.myshpr.net or by calling (586) 446-2700.

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