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Planning another summer at the market

Lori Penner

Altona Farmer's Market organizer Joe Braun is already hard at work, planning for this summer's market season.

Altona Farmer's Market organizer Joe Braun is already hard at work, planning for this summer's market season.

ALTONA - 

It may not quite seem like gardening weather yet, but organizers have been busy, ironing out the details for this year’s Farmer’s Market. Spokesman Joe Braun says they’re already booking vendors and hoping this year is as successful as last year.  “Last summer’s market went very well. Our sales were up by 20 per cent from the year before - the highest ever.”
Braun says the added variety and extra traffic flow had a lot to do with this. “We had nine vendors, which was great. Along with fruits, vegetables, canned and baked goods, we’ve seen a few new products come on board, such as gelato, roasted coffee beans and gluten free products. Variety always draws more people.”
Growing trends have also added to the sales and the interest. “More and more younger people are coming out. There is a shift to more wholesome, organic food. The newer generation wants to make that connection with the actual producer of their food. That has been a huge benefit to farmer’s markets across the province, our’s included.”
And while the trend to grow your own food has also grown, Braun says many people don’t have the knowledge, the space or the time to do that. “Going to the Farmer’s Market is one way you can still reap the benefits of locally grown produce, without actually putting in the time and effort to grow it yourself.”
The Altona Farmer’s Market began in 1989, moving to several locations before finally settling in the shelter along Main St. “We moved there the year the province was handing out grants to all the community farmer’s markets,” Braun says.
“We received $10,000, and we were able to purchase the shelter, which has made all the difference.  Our vendors and customers are out of sun and rain. We also spent some money last year to get the grounds a bit more level.”
Braun says they’re also hoping to have a few more buskers come out this year, to entertain the customers and provide a unique shopping environment.
“There’s something about a Farmer’s Market that’s just so ‘hometown’ and wholesome,” Braun says. “Customers can come out and talk to the same people every week, and vendors can compare their products and methods. Our aim is to make this a place to teach them marketing skills, and hopefully propel them to become independent. We’ve had a few of them really grow after their experience here.”
The start of the market season always coincides with the strawberry season, beginning either the last week in June or the beginning of July.
The Altona Farmer’s Market is held every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. Vendors pay $15 per table/per Saturday, or $150 for the season. In a good season, this can include up to 15 markets.  For more information, contact Joe Braun at 204-324-6259.