The Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market will open its 24th year of community service on Saturday May 20th at the corner of Grand River and Grove Street in the heart of downtown Farmington at the Walter Sundquist pavilion. There is large banner gently swaying from the rafters in the light breezes of early spring that proudly proclaims, “Saturday is market day!”.
Opening day of the market is special and has become a tradition centered around the ringing of the “old market bell reminding all that it is time to come to market! A color guard will march in place, flanked by the high school drumline. A local girl will step forward to sing our national anthem. The mayor will make a speech. Miss Farmington will step forward to ring the bell as loud cheers and waves of clapping fill the air. This is “Saturday life in a Michigan small town…”
Here in Farmington, the weekly Saturday market is a destination draw. Early morning finds farm trucks trundling to market as a new day’s dawn yawns itself awake nudged by cool grey clouds framing a patchwork of coming blue skies. Tailgates fly open as tables, crates and all forms of dunnage are passed down to waiting hands eager to fill farm tables with early spring lettuce, sprouts, micro greens, garden herbs, rhubarb, asparagus and maybe even early hot house tomatoes. This is a Michigan farm market springing to life as shouts of “good morning!” and “what kind of weather did you bring from out your way?” fill the air followed by wide winking smiles that in unison seem to say…. “Isn’t it good to be back at market…?”
Market volunteers will roll out the market cooktop for the day’s featured cooking demonstration while a local musician tunes his instrument under the music tent. Meanwhile loyal patrons mix with newcomers and even a few curiosity seekers, squinting quizzically at the hustle and bustle of a new season getting underway.
Soon the little city center pop up village is complete including an area for the markets “little sprouts” to work a craft or a game. Settled amongst the farm tables and around the bricks of the market it’s all about local fare…. featuring honey, jams, fresh baked goods, sauces and syrups, farm fresh eggs and more including fresh catch trap netted Michigan lake fish! Specially select artisans display hand built works for home and garden with colorful pottery, earthen ironworks or whimsical twig furniture…
Amidst the clatter and hum of community life, a local lending a hand leads a little red wagon that makes its way through the organized chaos, stopping at market tables, collecting donations for the weekly market basket giveaway, drawing at noon.
I hope you make time to find yourself at the corner of Grove Street and Grand River on any given Saturday. You don’t need a special reason, just grip onto he words of American philosopher Joseph Campbell, who says it best “It is here, it is here, it is here….
Walt Gajewski is the Farmington Farmer Market Manager. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org