Thursday, May 12, 2011
My parents live in Acton, Ontario (yes, it's worth the drive). They have lived there for 51 years and it is where I grew up. Of course we go to visit them as much as we can every year. And, like every family we have the things we like to do together. A favourite family adventure that we have done since I was a kid is to visit local Farmers' Markets. We love to get up on a Saturday morning and head to the Guelph, Milton, Acton, Waterloo or St. Jacobs Market. We go when it's raining, when it's snowing and when it is beautiful out. Every market is unique and has its own special vendors and products that we look for. We go because we enjoy the fresh fruit, meat, maple syrup, home baked goods, the fresh flowers, the art and crafts, the herbs, the honey, the cheese, the homemade Mennonite donuts (my daughter's favourite) and I especially enjoy all the organic produce and products. My husband loves to talk to the farmers about their farms, their produce and their lives. I love the crowds, the colours, the smells, the location (often outside, or in a funky building) and the unique special events that each market offers. At the Guelph Market my daughter enjoys the entertainment because there are often 2 young girls aged about 12 and 14 who are busking - they play the violin. I talked to their mom once and they've raised over $2,000 and donate half to charity and put half in the bank! I found my retirement career at the Waterloo Market this past fall - the most beautiful, individually made chocolates - every one was a piece of art. My family takes advantage of the markets in every community we visit including Peterborough, Huntsville, Gravenhurst (voted best small town Market in Ontario), Kinmount, Ottawa, Kingston (oldest Market in Ontario which started in 1780) and of course we love Kensington and the St. Lawrence Markets in Toronto.
I have done research on markets in Ontario so that we can plan some of our travelling adventures around them. A great website for a complete list of markets, and good information about them, is www.farmersmarketsontario.com . On this website I learned about the impact of Farmers' Markets in Ontario. "Shopping at the Farmers' Market is a healthy decision not only for you, but for your community's economy as well.
For every dollar spent at the market, another two dollars ripple through the provincial economy. In Ontario alone, sales at Farmers' Markets total almost $600 million, leading to an economic impact of an astounding $1.8 billion.
For every one person you see working at the market, another two are busy at work back on the farm. As many as 27,000 people in Ontario are directly involved in preparing and selling the products you find at the market. Furthermore, Farmers' Markets are good for other businesses too. Studies show 60 to 70 percent of market-goers visit neighbouring businesses on their way to and from the market.
Just as each new season brings forth a fresh bounty of harvest, Farmers' Markets continue to encourage new businesses. Young and old entrepreneurs alike find markets a great place to start their own enterprise because of the low overhead. A number of these entrepreneurial endeavours will eventually grow into store-front businesses of their own.
Just as important, healthy Farmers' Markets support a centuries old way of life: the family farm. While giant agriculture corporations and suburban bulldozers quickly replace family operations throughout Ontario, Farmers' Markets preserve an integral part of Ontario's heritage."
The Farmers' Market in our community is located in Carnarvon and runs on Friday afternoons from 1:00 - 5:00 pm (June 17 - Sept 9 with a special Harvest Market on October 7). I've never been able to go to this Market, because I work on Friday afternoons, but I've been told by many people that it is a big success. Last year over 25 vendors generated $70,000 in vendor revenue. In 2011 even more vendors will be participating. Once again, we are lucky to have this opportunity in our community and I hope that we all support it in whatever way we can. For more information about our market you can check out www.haliburtonfresh.com.