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Market thrives on growing trend

With its first year of year-round operation under its belt, the New Glasgow Farmers Market is looking at building on that success.

“It was the first year we could offer local (food and other products) to everyone, all year round,” said manager Kristi Russell.

“It was the first year we could offer local (food and other products) to everyone, all year round,” said manager Kristi Russell.

Located on the riverfront, the farmers market offers local entrepreneurs a low-cost marketplace to sell the items they make, bake or grow, along with giving residents a place where they can find locally raised meats, produce, farm-fresh eggs and unique hand-crafted items from local artisans, all under one roof.

The winterized building has been a huge benefit, said Russell. “By being year round, we give 30-plus vendors an opportunity to bring in income in what would otherwise be downtime. That offers them perhaps a little increased financial security and maybe a time for them to test out new products before peak season.”

She said having the market open all year gives residents an opportunity to buy local items, and opens a niche for farmers. “We have farms that can now gear their business towards growing produce that they can sell during winter months now that there is a marketplace to sell it. We have more farmers looking at how they can use this to their advantage.”

Russell said the market saw a 60 per cent increase in attendance in 2016, and while it’s difficult to say with certainty what contributed to that, she believes being open year-round, along with setting consistent hours all year, helped boost numbers.

Russell said other contributing factors may have been awareness, an increase in interest in the local food movement, and the wide variety of vendors who sell a broad range of “sought-after, quality-made products. We have also tried hard to make coming to the market a real experience by adding special events for the whole family and tapping into the amazing pool of talented local musicians our community has to offer.”

She noted that events such as Rocktoberfest and Market to Main Street also garnered a lot of attention province-wide and beyond. 

“We had two amazing events... Market to Main Street was the first event of its kind in Canada and we hear there are others wanting to put on their own event... so in that way we were able to be leaders. And if that means that more people embrace their community, buy local products and support local business, then we think that's fantastic!”


2017 schedule

The New Glasgow Farmers Market released its list of 2017 events this week, with several returning events, and a few new offerings.

Dinner by the River builds off the success of the Market to Main Street event held in August, and will transform the riverfront into a “sophisticated dining space.”

Last year Provost Street was turned into an outdoor restaurant, and Russell said this summer’s event will be the same concept in a different location. “We wanted to highlight another area,” she said, adding that they also want to try new things. “It’s farm to table and bringing the community together, which is what the market is all about.”

A costume party called All Hallow’s Ball will be held instead of Rocktoberfest in October, and more weeknight markets will be held due to demand. In 2016, a few weeknight markets were held leading up to the holiday season. “They went over really well, we received very positive feedback.”

She said three will take place this year, including Market for Mom before Mother’s Day and two weeknight Christmas market dates.

She said all funds raised through the special events go toward operating costs as well as enhancements such as establishing a community garden and purchasing a defibrillator to have on site.

“We have a really long wish list,” said Russell, noting that the market wants to make more things available for the community.

“We’re asking the community to come support us so we can support them. The vendors are our neighbours. If we as a community support each other, it’s only going to get better. We all have a responsibility to do that.”

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