Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Farmers’ Market Season Will Soon Be Here

When spring arrives, I begin thinking of the coming farmers’ market season. Our local farmers work hard year-round, but their busiest times are of course in the spring and autumn, and at this time of year they are busy planting and preparing for the season to come. Before long, they will have freshly grown vegetables, fruits, and proteins available for consumers, and that is good news for farmers’ market season.

The Meaford Farmers’ Market kicks off the new season on Friday, June 7 at the Rotary Harbour Pavilion, and this little market has come a long way since its launch in 2006.

It’s no secret that I have a soft spot for farmers’ markets, and particularly our market here in Meaford. Though I’m not a farmer nor a food producer, I was quite involved with the Meaford Farmers’ Market for a number of years, first as a sponsor of children’s activities at the market, then serving both as a board member, including a term as president and as market manager for a few years. I can tell you from my personal experience that hosting a farmers’ market every summer doesn’t happen by accident: it takes a lot of hard work by some dedicated volunteers.

The first ingredient needed for any successful farmers’ market is of course vendors. Farmers, food producers, crafters, are all crucial to the success of a farmers’ market. With the start of a new market season approaching, organizers of the Meaford Farmers’ Market are busy preparing, and part of that preparation includes finding new vendors.

Last week I saw a post on my Facebook feed from the Meaford Farmers’ Market putting out the call for vendors for the coming season.

Do you have unique items to sell? Did you produce them, grow them, bake, or create them yourself in the Meaford area? If so, the Meaford Farmers’ Market is looking for you. We have received many interesting applications already but we still have room for a few more,” the post read.

If you grow produce or raise proteins, Meaford’s farmers’ market is as fine a place as any to sell your goods, while interacting with the community. With the harbour-side location, and the shelter of the Rotary Harbour Pavilion, you can’t ask for a better place to spend a Friday afternoon in the summer.

There is something special about purchasing meats, produce, or other food items directly from the folks that produced them. You can learn a lot by talking to a farmer, and not just about food. Farmers have a vast knowledge of everything, from how weather impacts the growing season, to the history of the local area, and most of them are happy to chat on a sunny Friday afternoon at the Farmers’ Market.

The more we know about our food-producing neighbours, the more we can appreciate what it takes to get our food from the field to the table, and the more local food producers know their customers, the better they are able to serve them.

As far as community initiatives go, Meaford’s farmers’ market is a genuine success story. It’s no simple task to get a farmers’ market off the ground, but what started as a quaint little market has blossomed into a festive, bustling Friday afternoon event at Meaford’s beautiful harbour throughout the summer months.

In the early years market patrons might have found 15 or 20 vendors at the farmers’ market, but as the popularity of the Meaford Farmers’ Market has grown, so too have the number of vendors. Meaford’s farmers’ market has consistently managed to attract a wide range of vendors as well as local artisans who showcase their products on Friday afternoons.

I always enjoy finding garlic scapes and asparagus in the early weeks of market season, both are fantastic additions to a weekend omelette. As the season moves along, a wide range of fresh local produce can be found at the farmers’ market along with locally raised meats.

When my sons were young, they loved Fridays at the Farmers’ Market. My eldest, who today is a chef, loved seeing the wide range of vegetables and meats grown and raised in the area, while my youngest liked to peruse the baked goods and ‘meat sticks’ as he used to call what I have always known to be ‘pepperettes’. Add in some live music, and some finely skilled crafters, and it is an afternoon of fun for the whole family.

The farmers’ market is more than just produce and meats of course. You will find local crafters offering their creations, and there is also ready-to-eat food that is perfect for enjoying by the water.

One of the many things I love about Meaford’s farmers’ market is that while it is a fantastic place to shop for local food, most often Friday afternoons at the harbour feel like more of a community party than a retail establishment. Live music and special exhibits add some extra flair to Meaford’s farmers’ market, and when combined with the many chats you might have with friends and neighbours as you tour the market, it is certainly a special place that brings folks together.

While farmers’ markets in larger urban centres are typically served by farmers and food producers from neighbouring rural farming areas, when we attend our market here in Meaford, most of the vendors are our neighbours and friends, and who better to trust with producing the food that lands on your dinner table than friends and neighbours?

The market will be open on Friday afternoons from 3-7 p.m., and will run for 19 weeks, beginning June 7 through to October 11, at the Rotary Harbour Pavilion.

If you are considering becoming a vendor at the farmers’ market, or if you want more information, visit https://linktr.ee/meafordfarmersmarket

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