Mayor Rob MacDougall ringing the opening bell in Spirit Square to kickstart the first farmers market of the year. (Photo / Colin Macgillivray)

First farmers market fosters a sense of community

Vendors and customers alike excited for return of market

For Charlotte Croquet, one of the founding members of the Fort St. James Farmer’s Market, the first market of the year is always an incredibly exciting time.

“It’s definitely a bit of a celebration, says Croquet, who now serves as the organization’s president. “People unfortunately don’t get to have some of the fresh things that they would like over the winter, or they don’t get to experience some of the homemade products that people make. People are even looking forward to getting some of the crafts that are being made, because a lot of folks have quite a good reputation in the community for the things that they make.”

The market, which is held in Spirit Square from 11:30 – 4:00 every Friday, reopened on May 11, with Mayor Rob MacDougall ringing the opening bell to signal the start of another great season. The market has also made some welcome changes, as they are expanding their tight knit community of regular vendors, with at least five additional vendors joining the nine stalls returning from previous years.

These traditional vendors, who specialize in everything from sewing and driftwood woodworking, to fresh bread and baked goods, have been joined by exciting new faces. From some especially pretty acrylic artwork to a local honey vendor, Croquet believes that some of these new arrivals are especially enticing, both for the market and the community.

“One new vendor I’m particularly excited for is a group of children that will be part of a junior farming program, where an adult will be helping them grow their own food. It’s really exciting to see how that will turn out this summer,” says Croquet.

According to Croquet, whether it is finally getting your hands on some fresh, locally grown produce or that perfect piece of art, the market certainly has something for everyone, local and tourist alike.

“We get lots of tourists coming to the markets when summer truly begins, but we always get our regular clientele who are all ages and all sizes,” says Croquet. “Usually they’re coming for something specific, but they know exactly what they are looking for and who’s going to be there.”

The Fort St. James Farmer’s Market is certainly more than just an opportunity topick up some interesting products. Croquet believes that the community that has formed around the market is one of a kind, making it an excellent place to spend an afternoon.

“One of the most impressive things about our market is that we’re very much a community,” says Croquet. “There is never any competition issues that can sometimes come up in those big markets, where they never tell each other their recipes, or they’re full of secrets, or they’re incredibly selfish when it comes to their spot in the market.”

The community aspect has been on display time and time again. Whether it be helping older vendors set up and take down their stalls, or working cohesively to narrowly avoid a storm that is rumbling its way across Stuart Lake, Croquet is sure that the close market community that has sprung up over the years will continue to foster a warm and welcoming environment.

“People do seem to enjoy getting involved. Every time a new vendor comes, they bring all of their friends which brings in a bunch of new people to the market,” says Croquet. “These relationships that we have just kind of developed naturally into what we have now. It’s precious and we want to keep it that way.”

For more information visit the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FortStJamesFarmersMarket/.

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