Crummy weather doesn’t appear to be dampening enthusiasm as another farmers’ market season begins.
Farmers Market Association of Manitoba executive director Dianna Mae Hocaluk said word is most markets around Manitoba are all raring to go and some have started already. St. Norbert began June 6.
Weather is worrisome, but most markets have vendors with greenhouses who should have lettuces and spring herbs to start the season, she said.
Meanwhile, three new markets are launching – at Selkirk, West Hawk Lake and at Arnes, setting a stage for another year with vendors in very high demand. “This is a very busy season for us,” said Hocaluk.
Selkirk greenhouse vegetable producer Doug Braman is chair of the new Waterfront Farmers’ Market set to launch June 27 and operate each Saturday for 14 weeks.
Right now they have eight vendors, with three vegetable growers including themselves, Braman said. They’d love to get more, he said.
They found there was an interest locally in having a place to sell produce without having to drive somewhere, he said. “St. Norbert’s (farmers’ market) is a fair distance to travel,” he said.
Selkirk’s new farmers’ market will be launched with the mayor of Selkirk ringing the opening bell at 9 a. m.
Just a few miles down river The Forks Market is also launching a new market and putting out a call for vendors.
Theirs will be held Wednesday evenings from 3 to 7 p. m. and held under the central canopy outdoors at The Forks – where the skating rink is during winter. They hope to expand it to the riverfront in future – if they get enough vendors, said Forks Market assistant manager Andrea Clow. They’re eager to sign on all types of fresh food suppliers, but will likely turn away most crafters, she said.
“We’ll be calling it Meet the Producers so we don’t necessarily want the crafter aspect of it,” she said.
Forks Market hasn’t held an open-air farmers’ market on-site since 1992, but is eager to start one given the demand and The Forks’ own recent efforts to rebrand itself as a market for local customers, she added. Vendors can expect good traffic flow if they come here to sell, she said. They have traffic counts as high as 5,000 people a day with the highest traffic through June to September.
These new markets are likely to face the same sorts of challenges of last year – tight demand for vendors and steep learning curves for new market operators.
Recruiting enough vendors willing to commit to a site is a common challenge for all new and existing markets alike.
Darryl Ruston co-ordinates the Red River Exhibition’s farmers’ market and knows what it’s like to get a new market going. Red River Exhibition begins its sixth year this summer and now has about 40 vendors annually.
Getting vendors to sign up wasn’t as much of a problem as getting the word out when they started, Ruston said. You can spend a lot on advertising at first, and no market has much of a budget for this, he said.
Once established, however, there’s a loyal following, Ruston said. Their market now sees about 1,000 people through every Saturday and the majority are repeat customers.