By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
Oxford Township Parks and Recreation is taking steps to establish a farmers market, including pursuing a grant to build a pavilion at Seymour Lake Park.
Based on the award of up to $100,000 from Oakland County Parks and Recreation’s Park Improvement Grant Program, the farmers market will be located at a new 40-foot by 100-foot open-air pavilion at Seymour Lake Park located across from the playgrounds. The township’s plan also calls for paving the stretch of road next to the park and adding in concrete walkways to ensure the market is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. The county expects at least 25% of grant funds to be matched by the interested community, meaning the township could pay a maximum minimum of $25,000 from park funds for the project.
“I’ve had the idea for about five years,” Ron Davis, Oxford Township parks and recreation director, said. “I’ve always wanted to do [a farmers market] and the opportunity presented itself through the grant, so we’re gonna pursue it.”
Outside of farmers market hours, likely to be Saturday mornings in the spring through fall, the pavilion will be used for community events and other gatherings.
C.J. Carnacchio, communications & grants manager for the township, reached out to local farms and businesses while preparing the grant and says the reception has been positive.
“Everybody I talked to was interested,” Carnacchio said. “Obviously they didn’t commit to it yet, but they’re interested in the concept … I’d go beyond interested and say a lot of them were very excited about the concept and the prospect of having a dedicated space.”
Carnacchio sees the market improving the township in four ways. It will promote healthy lifestyle habits by providing fresh produce in a central location, it will be a community hub by attracting people of all ages, it will provide local farmers by giving them a place where they can directly sell their goods to consumers, and it will cut down on food insecurity by providing free produce from the community garden and accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments for healthy food purchases.
Carnacchio does not believe the new market would conflict with the Village of Oxford Downtown Development Authority’s (DDA) farmers market, but rather give buyers and sellers another place to gather. The DDA market operates on Thursdays.
Even if the plan is approved by all necessary township authorities, it still hinges on the county approving the grant. Oakland County Parks and Recreation are not expected to announce any winners until April 2022.
“This farmers market is expected to become a focal point for the community,” Carnacchio said. “It’s gonna be a place brimming with life and bustling with activity [and] a place that represents the best of what Oxford has to offer.”
By Dean Vaglia