With spring in full swing, lakes area residents can soon head out to the crop of nearby farmers markets to pick from the freshest plants and produce available. Farmers markets have become increasingly popular now that families are gravitating toward healthier food choices and choosing to shop local while supporting Michigan farmers. Whether you’re looking for sun-kissed tomatoes straight off the vine, vibrant greenhouse flowers or flavorful homemade jams and organic items, the local farmers markets carry a vast variety of freshly cultivated perennials/annuals, plants, and produce, along with garden tools and decor.
The following is a list of farmers markets in or around the lakes area, what they will be showcasing, and their hours of operation for the upcoming season.
The Oakland County Market, located at 2350 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township, is open year-round. From May through Christmas, the market is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. From Dec. 26 through April, it’s open only on Saturdays from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Vendors include purveyors of produce, flowers, plants, spices, jams/jellies, honey, aromatherapy candles and soaps, baked goods, garden decor and eco-friendly and soil management products.
“Right now we’re featuring seasonal fruits and veggies and getting in asparagus and lettuce shortly,” said Dan Stencil, executive officer of Oakland County Parks and Recreation, which is taking over management of the county’s market. “Currently we’re working with the Michigan State University Cooperative Extension and the Oakland County Public Health Department to promote healthy eating.”
Gardening and cooking demonstrations are planned this year in conjunction with the County Market, which is being transferred to Parks and Recreation control on June 2.
“The staff is in place and beginning the transition. For all intents and purposes we are managing the market,” Stencil said.
The Oakland County Market is nearly 100-years-old. It was launched in 1922 in downtown Pontiac and relocated to Waterford Township in 1953. Over 300,000 visitors come to the market annually.
“It began as a means to provide a place for the general public to get a variety of seasonal fresh fruits and flowers,” Stencil said. “We are looking to expand it.”
The County Market will be used as a gateway to the Waterford Oaks county park, a 14-acre site, to cross promote other activities like the Waterford Oaks greenhouse, water park, Paradise Peninsula Playground and many amenities the park offers, according to Stencil.
One of the changes being implemented at the county park is having staff and volunteers direct traffic and act as porters to convey goods to patrons’ cars.
The market provides 90 vendor stalls; however, there is a waiting list given that over 130 vendors have signed up.
“First we want to give the site a makeover and completely repaint the inside and outside and brand it as an Oakland County park,” Stencil said.
The plan is to enhance the customer experience by establishing a small picnic area and rolling out new programming and special events.
“This summer, as part of launching special events, we will use our mobile recreation units that provide inflatables, climbing towers, and stages, and then engage individual entertainers like guitarists and soloists,” Stencil said.
Most vendors travel from outside Oakland County to sell their products at the County Market.
“Unfortunately, Oakland County doesn’t have as much agricultural presence as it once had,” Stencil said.
One long-time vendor, Prielipp Farms, hails from Britton, Mich. The 3,000-acre farm has been family-owned and operated since 1870 and has been conveying fresh grown produce and plants to the Oakland County market since 1975.
Co-owner Dan Prielipp said during the off season, the farm’s greenhouse allows the family to sell produce and Christmas decorations such as wreaths, roping, loose greens, and memorial blankets at the County Market. Right now they are selling varieties of pansies, Gerber daisies, and potted Dahlias. In May, there will be more to choose from like hanging baskets, bedding plants, flats, and accent plants. Come summer they will add sweet corn, tomatoes, melons, peppers, and cucumbers.
“We only bring what we grow and produce doesn’t come in until late June or early July,” Prielipp said.
For more information on the County Market, visit oakgov.com/cmarket.
This year’s 10th annual Walled Lake Farmer’s Market will open on Wednesday, May 2 and continue through Oct. 31. The market will be open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday at the city’s event field adjacent to the the Walled Lake Fire Station on E. West Maple.
Market Master Janell Joyce said the market continues to grow every year.
“It has tripled in size from when we took it over seven years ago from the Downtown Development Authority (DDA),” Joyce said. “More residents stop in who want to ‘buy Michigan.’”
This year the vendor list has expanded. New to the market this season is Keith Swan with Swan’s Farm of Commerce Township, who will be selling fresh produce; Bonnie George, who will be selling homemade pot holders and aprons for garden and kitchen use; and Randy Lipman’s Mystic Kettle, a purveyor of kettle corn.
Mystic Kettle is based in Huntington Woods. Lipman and her husband run the fledgling business that was launched only a year ago.
“We heard the Walled Lake Farmer’s Market is wonderful and we want the opportunity to position ourselves throughout different communities,” Lipman said.
Mystic Kettle’s all-natural, Michigan-grown and Michigan-made gourmet kettle corn is both slightly sweet and salty, a snacker’s dream.
“Our kettle corn is unique — we use mushroom-style kernels that pop rounder,” Lipman said. “When the kernels are placed in hot oil, we add the sugar that caramelizes and the salt binds to the surface. After popping we filter out the unpopped kernels and crumbs so you get a nice bag full of corn.”
Mystic Kettle’s primary goal is to sell a product that its customers enjoy in the local area, and giving a portion of its proceeds to charitable causes.
“We do a lot of work with fund-raisers like the Berkley Instrumental boosters and the ‘Pink Fund’ for breast cancer survivors who have financial hardships,” Lipman said. “Our motto is ‘Don’t Settle for any Kettle — Mystic Kettle.’”
To date, there are 30 vendors purchasing a booth at the market, a slight increase from last year. Hospitality House will make a special showing in mid-July to man a booth in order to glean donations for the not-for-profit organization that serves area households in need.
Market shoppers can choose from a range of products and produce, including perennials/annuals; honey; Great Harvest bread/cookies; knives, cutlery, and garden tools; leather goods; baked goods; jams/jellies (some sugar-free); homemade soaps and bath products; aromatic oils; hot dogs; kettle corn; homemade taco chips; homemade salsa and barbecue sauces; birdhouses; aprons/bibs; garden decor; and solar lights.
Vendors hail from anywhere between Farmington Hills and Belleville, from Howell to Armada.
“VanHoutte Farms is a long-standing vendor and very popular, so is Springbrook Farms,” Joyce said.
John Hatfield, the farmer’s market coordinator for Springbrook Farms, said the Michigan-based company has been a loyal attendee of the Walled Lake market since it’s genesis in 2002.
“It’s a homey market — just the way a farmer’s market should be — and offers a wide array of items,” Hatfield said. “We’ve been coming since the beginning because it’s a close radius to our customer base.”
Springbrook Farms owns a 13-acre farm in Howell and a greenhouse in Farmington. It’s been in the business since 1932.
“We’re an old Oakland County grower — there are very few of us left, as most come from Romeo, Armada and a few from Ann Arbor,” Hatfield said.
Both John and and his brother, Rick, are horticulturists who pride themselves in their hands-on and knowledge-based approach.
“We don’t use pesticides and don’t believe in using animal manure because of the risk of salmonella — that could run into bacterial problems,” Hatfield explained.
Instead, they use a scientific approach to grow their crops and monitor their soil closely.
“We use a cultivator every two weeks to work the weeds up — it’s very labor-intensive,” Hatfield said. “We know when our plants need calcium or the soil needs a change in acidity because we have the capability to test them.
“We also have sweet water in our aquifers to help with maturing the crops, and that is very rare among farmers,” he said.
Springbrook Farms will be showcasing a wide range of produce and flora at this year’s farmer’s market, including the rare Mountain Fresh tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, squash, corn, green beans, potatoes, onions, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumbers.
Apart from flats of perennials/annuals, hanging bushes, and porch pots, premier roses will be available for purchase.
“We grow a lot of rosebushes and are the only one who produces in the area,” Hatfield said.
Springbrook is renowned for growing highly coveted roses such as David Austin, Knock Outs, and Floribundas varieties.
Another rare find are the Traverse City Benjamin Twig cherries that Springbrook Farms has exclusive rights to sell in lower Michigan. Other cherry products sold will include jams/jellies and vinaigrettes.
Wixom will be rolling out its fourth annual Farmers Market on May 24 from 3 to 7 p.m. at Sibley Park on Pontiac Trail, directly across from City Hall. From that time forward, the market will be held every Thursday until Oct. 4 from 3 to 7 p.m., with summer concerts immediately following.
The Wixom Farmers Market debuted in 2009 at the corner of Old Wixom Road and Pontiac Trail as a community service, but was relocated two years ago due to parking constraints.
Since its inception, the market has progressively grown.
“We get a steady crowd of people because we tie in with Wixom theme nights and the concerts,” said Wixom Parks and Recreation Director Deanna Magee. “We’re marketing it as activities here on Thursdays and the whole idea is to patronize the businesses and participate in downtown activities.”
This year Magee said she anticipates about 20 vendors doing business at the city’s market. Only 15 have signed up so far, but it’s early yet, she said.
“We have quite a few new vendors this year and we’re really trying to recruit more because more is better,” Magee said. “We want to progressively grow the market and keep it where there’s a diverse selection of items — something for everyone.”
This year vendors will set up camp showcasing flowers, fresh fruits and veggies, honey, eggs, cheese, meats, breads, jams and jellies, pottery, candles, jewelry, woodworks, garden decor, soaps, iron works, photography, and more.
“To encourage economic growth in Michigan, we favor vendors that produce in Michigan,” Magee said.
There will be kids activities available at the market, such as arts, crafts, and inflatables. In addition, cooking demonstrations are planned and master gardeners from the Michigan State University Extension will be on site weekly.
For more information on the Wixom Farmers Market, visit wixomparksandrec.com and click on the Farmers Market link.
The White Lake Farmer’s Market will be entering into its second year of operation this May.
The market will be open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. from Saturday, May 5 to Oct. 6.
Huron Valley Recreation and Community Education, in conjunction with White Lake Township, hosts the market at the Huron Valley Lakeland High School campus off of Bogie Lake Road.
The market showcases a variety of vendors and features fruits and vegetables, baked goods, plants, yard and garden materials, and candy, as well as hand-made crafts.
Current vendors for 2012 include those from the lakes area, as well as Novi and Hartland.
The rental of vendor space is restricted to those whose principal production site is within 200 miles of the White Lake Farmer’s Market location.
The booth fee is $16 per week for one space, while renting a space the day of the market is $21 per day per space on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Those interested in becoming a vendor should contact Huron Valley Recreation and Community Education at 248-676-8390 or Kevin Lawrence at 248-755-1195.
Entertainment will also be provided at the White Lake Farmer’s Market on certain dates this summer.
Luti, a music group from Milford, will be at the market from 10 a.m. to noon on May 19, June 2, 9, and 23, and on Aug. 18.
Luti performs “folk music with a European flair.”
Meanwhile, Leah Giesey will be providing vocal music from noon to 1 p.m. on July 14 and 28, and Aug. 11 and 25.
For more information go to whitelakefarmersmarket.weebly.com.
The Milford Farmers’ Market will be held on Thursday afternoons from 3-8 p.m. beginning on May 10 and ending Oct. 18.
This season will be the market’s fourth year, and will once again feature fresh and locally-grown produce as a means to support local vendors.
Vendor booths will be set up on E. Liberty Street between S. Main and Union. There will be public parking on all nearby streets, along with parking lots on either side of Main Street. The only exception will be on Aug. 9 during Milford Memories, when the farmer’s market will be held at South Side Park next to the Milford Fire Station.
“The number of vendors vary from week to week depending on the season and what Mother Nature has to offer, but typically we have anywhere from 25 to 30 vendors — 30 is our capacity, although we are looking for additional space,” said Linda Lowe, the market’s chairperson. “Because our vendors vary, we do have spots available and we do keep a waiting list.”
Kelley Kirchner, the market’s events coordinator, added that she expects 28 vendors on opening day and that the market is working on a plan to expand into another area this year during the bounty of the season.
According to Kirchner, artesian breads and spices, free-range meats, farm-fresh eggs, and plants are just some of the items that will be sold at the market, as well as baked goods, fruits, vegetables and produce. Homemade items such as soaps and other beauty products will also be available.
“The establishment is intended to bring local farmers to a community location and to provide this venue to local people. In addition to being able to get great local produce and products, it seems to be like a local gathering place for people, like a piazza in Italy,” Kirchner said.
A vendor has four payment options; $20 per week for one space, a flat fee of $17 per week for one space for vendors that make a full-season commitment but want to pay week-to-week, a 6- to 12-week pre-payment option of $16 per week for one space, or a 13-24 week pre-payment option of $14 per week for one space.
Kirchner said that the workers at the market are all volunteers and all the booth fees from the vendors goes right back into the market to pay for entertainment, advertising, tents, promotions, and other necessities.
She added that most of the vendors are from metro Detroit, including Milford, South Lyon and Hartland.
The Farmers’ Market will also host a series of events and concerts beginning on May 10 with a “May Day” celebration with activities for children.
The event will include a “May Day” pole for children to wrap a ribbon around to commemorate the end of the winter harvest and going into the bounty of the summer harvest, according to Kirchner.
The Farmers’ Market’s fourth birthday party will also be held during the May 24 market with games, prizes and birthday cake from the Milford Baking Company available from 4 to 6 p.m.
Live concerts will also be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. every week beginning with a performance by Pato Margetic during the “May Day” event. Margetic will also play on July 19 and Sept. 20.
TJ Kelly will perform on May 17, July 12 and Aug. 16, while Julie Haven will perform on May 24 during the market’s birthday party.
Also performing will be Chris Breest (May 31 and Aug. 2), Pete “Big Dog” Fetters (June 5), Robin Horlock (June 14, July 26, Aug. 30 and Oct. 4), The Spoonful Blues Band (June 21 and Sept. 13), Cass Dufrin (June 28 and Sept. 6), and Annie & Rod Capps (July 5, Aug. 9 and Sept. 27).
On May 31 and Aug. 2 there will be a cooking demonstration provided by Cooking with Dawn Bause, and the second annual Farmers’ Market Chili Cookoff will be held on Oct. 11.
Kirchner added that “Shop, Chop and Dine” with Chef Brian Polcyn of Cinco Lagos will also be back this year.
The Farmers’ Market is held in conjunction with the Michigan Farmers’ Market Association.
For more information, visit milfordfarmersmarket.org.
WEST BLOOMFIELD HENRY FORD HOSPITAL
While West Bloomfield Township itself does not host a farmers market, Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield does host a year-round weekly farmers market from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays inside the hospital.
Sally Ann Brown, senior public relations specialist for Henry Ford Health System, said the market is part of Main Street Live and that its goal is to offer a sustainable, food-based, produce-driven market that provides education and enjoyment to the community.
Brown added that during the state’s growing season, the market provides plants and produce from area growers and community groups, along with healthy prepared foods such as baked goods and jams that are aimed at maintaining a healthy diet and following the hospital’s guidelines.
The market even offers pet treats to help animals maintain proper nutrition.