(Drew Saunders, July 27, 2017)
South Lyon, MI -You will be hard pressed to find a Michigander who hasn’t used the palm of their hand as a map to show where they live. At the South Lyon Farmers Market you can find a stall amongst the food and vegetable stalls where you can find one table where a 14-year-old South Lyon resident can make your palm map permanent.
Tom Burt started making Michigan shaped concrete blocks filed with stones for a home-schooled art project. The 14 year old made ten and they proved popular, so they just kept making them. Tom and his mother “thought we would do two [sets] and that was eight weeks ago.”
Orders are made by phone and the blocks are made in the family barn. The shapes are put sanded in concrete formed with 5,000 P.S.I., with marbles put in where you want to mark. The process takes three hours from start to finish, and two sets are made per day. A website is in the works and prices can range from $10 to $20 for a hand sized cast. Larger ones can go from $50 and up, depending on how much a customer customizes their stone.
“We make them six times a week and we can’t keep up,” Rebecca Burt said.
But Tom and his mother are far from the only thing at the South Lyon Farmer’s Market. It is open from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Saturday, from May through October, with roughly a 4:1 ratio between vegetable and artisan stalls, and a focus on locally grown produce.
“I love that it’s local and that it’s a community based market,” new South Lyon resident Jaclyn Manor said.
Saturday, July 16, was the third time she visited the market with her husband, Brad.
“I like that you know you’re getting it fresh from the farmers. [It’s] micro-local,” Brad added.
During a typical weekend July 15, at the corner of Pontiac Trail and 10 Mile in downtown South Lyon, around an estimated 150 people streamed in and out of the parking lot that was transformed into a farmer’s market for Oakland counties south-eastern most community.
“I like [how] its always very friendly and open. I see the same vendors here every week. So, if I see something I like, I know there’s a good chance it’ll be here next week,” shopper Marlene Mead said.
The market is looking to expand under the leadership of Tim Davids. The parking lot it takes place in has a short row of spaces like a handle, and forms a circle of space near the corner of Pontiac Trail and 10 Mile Road. The handle was full of stalls. Davids wants to expand the ready-made food options, get live music on a consistent basis and include at least one flower vendor.
“The demographic that we have here, in my opinion … seem to enjoy shopping here. It’s hard to imagine this crowd to go from here to complete their shopping at a Walmart every week,” Davids said.
As with many cases, South Lyon’s farmers market is part of the Downtown Development Authority. It is currently being sponsored by the local Busch’s.
Manager Rebecca Burt was there last Saturday with Busch’s BBQ tent. Burt says that since Busch’s is very eager to support local produce in its stores, corporate was all for her idea to support the farmer’s market when she pitched the idea last spring.
“We have a wide variety of local [products]. It’s about ten percent of our product. The South Lyon location in particular has a warehouse in the back of the store so various small vendors who couldn’t do business with a larger company can do business with us,” Burt said. “For us it’s all about staying local. … The crafting is of a very good quality. The farmers are a great product. We’re really happy with the assortment of selection here.”
Davids is been the interim farmer’s market manager, though he has applied to stay in the position permanently. Given enough planning ahead, Davids says the market could provide a person with enough food for an entire week, without having to go to a traditional supermarket.
“It’s far more about community than it is anything else. We get a lot of the same faces week to week,” Davids said. “[But] we see a lot of new faces.”