Winnipeggers who love visiting farmers’ markets can start shopping early.
The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s popular indoor farmers’ market at the Manitoba Hydro Place Gallery opened up for a one-day market on March 27, bringing together about 30 vendors to sell baked goods, perogies, vinegars, jams and preserves, potatoes as well as a variety of meats including bison and pastured pork and chicken.
The next market will open June 5 with plans to extend the season until October.
Like another late-year market held last November, this early opening is a “test run” to see what sort of interest there is in an ongoing indoor market, said Jason Syvixay, managing director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.
Downtown Winnipeg BIZ has a waiting list of vendors and continuously fields calls from more interested in selling at this market, Syvixay said. All the interest has combined to make a year-round indoor market a subject for “ongoing conversation,” he said.
“We’re kind of a nice little pop-up initiative that can help gauge response and need,” he said, adding that Downtown BIZ and Centre Venture and others with a stake in city centre economic development see the need for improved food access as part of downtown development.
“With the absence of a full-line grocery store downtown, perhaps now is the time to think outside the box and into our local gardens, when it comes to food access in our city’s core,” says Stefano Grande, executive director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.
“Farmers’ markets not only help support the local economy, they reduce transportation costs and food waste. They help create a unique destination for downtown residents, office workers, students and tourists — adding vibrancy to our streets and sidewalks and attracting business for downtown stores and restaurants nearby.”
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Other Canadian cities have permanent infrastructure for farmers’ markets where they can be indoor or outdoor, or sometimes they pop up in existing spaces but many questions need to be asked about how one could fit in Winnipeg, Syvixay added.
In the warmer months as many as 70 vendors sell at this market when part of Edmonton Street is closed off to accommodate the market and the initiative has had “tremendous impact on the perception of downtown Winnipeg,” a Downtown BIZ press release states.
It’s estimated there were about 7,000 visitors to it last year, while it ran every Thursday between July and end of September.