Concepts · Environmental · Lifestyle · Support local · Uncategorized

A Local Way to Shop {a small tribute to Farmers’ Markets}

If you haven’t been to a Farmers’ Market in your town this summer, take the opportunity to visit one really soon. Markets aren’t just for the spring and summer. Most local markets in Canada last until the Thanksgiving long weekend (and can be a great way to find an apple or pumpkin pie!), which means that we have anywhere from four to eight weeks left of Farmers’ Market season. Just think about it. They’re a place where local growers and artisans gather for your convenience. They supply their neighbours and community with fresh food that we all need to live. Markets are quite remarkable if you think about all the planning and the overall care behind them. 

People at a local market in Red Deer, AB.
White and red radishes.
Fresh flowers are absolutely delightful!

Markets can have some pretty fun entertainment, partly because you never knew who would be performing! I’ve seen people lip-sync, mime or be a clown, play an assortment of musical instruments, and sometimes there are performers that do tricks.

This guy juggles knives… sometimes on a unicycle!

Farmers’ Markets are a great place to purchase food grown locally as well as a variety of handmade items. My town has two markets to choose from (downtown on Wednesday evenings or Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), and while they both offer fresh produce, they also are quite different. The Wednesday markets are small with less non-food vendors with very little “trinket” type things for sale. The Saturday markets on the other hand are larger and depending on the week, might also contain food/beverage trucks, local charities, home-based businesses, clothing, jewellery, vintage and household items, as well as various handmade objects. The Wednesday market is an “Approved Farmers’ Market” while the Saturday one is classified as a “Public Market.” The difference in classification is in the percentage of local producers versus vendors. According to the Alberta Farmers’ Market Association, “80 per cent (80%) of the vendors meet the “make it, bake it, grow it” criteria; the remaining 20 per cent (20%) of the vendors are selling products that complement the market mix and the sale of any used good or flea market products are prohibited.”

Woodwork is beautiful.
A fun place to try on some clothes.
What a fun little table!

So really, one is more focused on growing, making and baking, while the other has a large variety in booths. Both markets are fun to visit and wonderful to support. Our money is like voting, and each time we purchase something we are telling the “powers that be” that we like, want, and demand a certain kind of product. The same goes for markets. The more money we contribute to our local farmers and vendors, the more money gets invested into our local economy, and usually when businesses do well, a city does well.  Let’s support our local economy, or any local economy for that matter. It’s so much fun to visit markets in other towns because the booths can be so different than from what your town offers.  Be sure to visit your local market in the next few weeks. You never know what you might find!

Beautiful succulent plants. 
Happy market-goer.

I love the sense of community that I feel at markets. When I see people that grew my food, or designed a bracelet, or grew a plant, and they all took the time to do something they love and bring it to the same venue for me to consider purchasing… it gives me a sense of happiness that I cannot find at a box store. It makes me feel good to know I am supporting a community member and their family. I love bumping into people I know, or meeting new ones at the market. The mall doesn’t provide me with that type of feeling. And I certainly don’t feel it in a large grocery store.

Some people complain that going to the market takes time. And while this is true, it doesn’t have to be that way. People are welcome to pop in and pop out of a market, they don’t need to browse every single stand. It helps if you know roughly where you’re going and exactly what you’re looking for. While I have rushed into and out of markets before, I do prefer to take a little longer. But that’s because I prefer to get my coffee and breakfast at a Saturday market and thoroughly enjoy the experience. Because life is all about little experiences!

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