Farmers’ market ready to open

The Clover Valley Farmers’ Market will open for the season here Saturday (May 5) to supply district residents with crafts, produce, baking, and many other local products.
Manager Deb Cornell said she’s looking forward to a great season.
“Farmers’ markets are the fastest-growing portion of the food sales industry,” she noted. “That’s probably why you see supermarkets emulating the farmers’ market atmosphere.”
Cornell said while people will see fewer vendors at the market than in previous years, there will be more local produce.
“At points in our lives we have turning points and I think this may be one for the market,” she remarked.
“Certainly in the community, there’s a growing interest in local foods and we have the opportunity at our doorstep to become more of a distribution place for local foods.”
Cornell indicated that could mean opening the farmers’ market more than just on Saturdays down the road.
“All across the district, there may be slowly less farmers but . . . I see some exciting things going on,” she said, noting local operations such as Lowey’s Greenhouse and Amos and Heidi Brielmann’s Pine River Ranch are undergoing positive changes.
Besides her optimism of selling local produce, Cornell added there will be a few changes at the Clover Valley Farmers’ Market over the course of the season, which she hopes will make a difference.
For instance, the hours will be shortened slightly, opening from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
“For years we’ve gone until 2 p.m. but we found a really low percentage of customers come through that last hour,” Cornell explained. “People have lots on the go, so we’re just going to tighten the day up a little bit.”
In addition, the market will be hiring an agri-food marketing youth intern—a one-year position sponsored by the Rainy River Federation of Agriculture and funded by FedNor.
“We have some community-supported ag projects in mind,” Cornell said.
“This is a really exciting thing for us because we all have our own businesses and it’s been very difficult to get the things we want done, farmers’ market-wise, so this is our big chance to have someone do the tasks.”
Cornell noted the intern will develop an inventory of local products and contacts, as well as provide support at agricultural and agri-food events.
She added she’s already had some interest in the posted position, which closes Friday, and hopes to have the intern starting sometime this month.
The north end of the farmers’ market building will be used as a work space for the intern, as well as for the kitchen, which will be moved into the larger building from the smaller building.
Cornell said they also are looking for someone to run the concession service on Saturdays.
“We’ll have an area for people to sit indoors and, of course, that will be nice being out of the hot sun and rain won’t be a problem,” she said, adding the kitchen will start out where it is but will be moved over the course of the season.
She added they’re hoping to use the kitchen space for other food preparations.
“We are going to be looking for an expression of interest to use the space as a commercial kitchen for anything from catering to preserves to baking,” Cornell explained.
“But that’s all in the works.”
Some of the other things people will see again this year at the market is a consignment booth, with a varied selection of crafts available.
“It’s nice and I think people have enjoyed being able to do that,” Cornell said. “You may spend a lot of time doing some high-end craft, but it’s difficult for you to do Saturdays at the market.
“So this has filled that gap nicely.”
Anyone interested in consignment or a market space is welcome to contact Cornell at 486-3409.
Also new this year will be a tailgate fee of $15.
“They can just pull up in the yard and operate off the back of their truck,” Cornell explained. “It’s something for people who don’t have a lot of vegetables and might want to give it a try.”
She added people are welcome to sell their products at the market any weekend they want.
“Even if people call me the night before . . . they are welcome for as few or as many weekends as they want.”
This Saturday, bulk maple syrup—brought in fresh from the Kitchener/Waterloo area—will be available for $5.95/pound.
You must bring your own container.