When you think farmers’ market you may picture a bunch of folks in overalls and straw hats selling potatoes by the bushel. Well, that may have been the case 50 years ago, but it isn’t so today.
The farmers’ market of the 21st century is as diverse as the people who frequent it. From fresh local meat to baked goods to honey, jewellery and crafts, the market is a venerable melting pot of local goodness.
It is a place where relationships are formed, money is passed through fewer hands than in a global marketplace, and consumers are able to get fresh, local and hand-produced goods.
The Cape Breton Farmers’ Market, in its many different forms, has been around for over 30 years.
The drivers, David and Pam Newton—with the support and commitment of local farmers, people interested in local food sourcing and agriculture, the Downtown Sydney Development Association and the Cape Breton Federation of Agriculture—took a great idea and planted themselves in what was then the MT&T parking lot on George Street in Sydney.
From there, the market moved to Sydney’s Esplanade, below the Cape Breton Regional Municipality offices where it was outdoors in the fall and safe within the CBRM’s Round Room in the Winter.
Their next move was to the refurbished warehouse space at the Sydney Marine Terminal until their final shift to its present location on Keltic Drive.
Now, with its new permanent location, it is growing with each passing week. There are the familiar faces that have helped the evolution of the market, as well as many new and budding producers.
Of thier current vendors, the longest-standing member is the effervescent and ever-smiling “Honey Man”, Walter Pickles, followed closely by coffee, chocolate and fritatta sandwich vendors Charles and Sharon Marie Mugford MacDonald, who are also known for their highland beef.
One of the latest projects has been to create a government-inspected kitchen, which has resulted in various food vendors being able to sell traditional Greek, Lebanese and Japanese offerings.
“We aim for the Market to be a community gathering place as people continue to satisfy the need for healthier, locally-produced foods. Bonds are established with our customers who want to know where their foods come from. This is where satisfaction comes from, in providing a service that is appreciated and supported,” says Sharon Marie Mugford MacDonald.
“The Market allows small business entrepreneurs the opportunity to display and sell their wares and to perhaps expand their businesses,” MacDonald continues, “but there’s still lots of room for growth, and it would be wonderful if people would plant small gardens, and bring their excess for sale at the Market at, perhaps, a community garden table.”
It is proven that urban areas benefit from revitalized neighbourhoods and an increased sense of community. Consumers get face-to-face contact with growers and producers, fresh food and good information. It is an opportunity for everyone to come out ahead.
The Cape Breton Farmers Market is located at 340 Keltic Drive, between the Coxheath Road and the Tasty Treat. It is open every Saturday from 8:30am to 1pm. For more information, visit capebretonfarmersmarket.com or check them out on Facebook.