By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The colourful display of fresh produce, baked goods and handcrafted items that are commonly found in front of the library on Fridays could be gone from downtown Morinville this summer, replaced with nothing but the grey pavement and bricks that stand in front of the Town of Morinville offices.
The market, which is run from May until September each year by the Friends of the Morinville Public Library, is currently without someone to oversee the weekly operation, a situation that will cause the canopies to crumble on a vibrant part of Morinville’s downtown if someone cannot be found soon.
“We have no manager of the market,” said Friends of the Morinville Public Library President April Heppleston. “If we have no manager for the market we are looking at having to fold the market.”
It is a dire situation for a community event that has existed in Morinville for at least the past decade; however, without a volunteer to step forward to take on the responsibility of managing the vendors, the Friends are left with little choice. For Heppleston, the disappearance of the farmers’ market from the streets of Morinville would be the disappearance of a piece of rural Alberta.
“It’s part of the culture of the community,” Heppleston said. “When you are driving down the highway, any highway, any province, you will see farmers’ market signs. I don’t know about anyone else, but I know when we’re travelling we look for those signs and we hope that we’re in that town on that day. We have actually planned some of our trips so that we stop in town when it’s farmers’ market day. It’s exciting to see what’s there and then you know that you’re getting good, fresh produce.”
But no one has stepped forward to take the place of the market’s current manager who stepped down this year after many years. Heppleston said her group have been looking and advertising for someone to take on the task for some time, and that much of the work has already been put in place for this year’s market.
“The Friends have already put everything in place, pretty much,” she said, adding the governmental paperwork to hold the market has been completed, a list of vendors has been compiled and a tea has already been organized that will familiarize all participants with the rules. “Generally speaking, it just leaves it up to the manager to keep an eye on things. The new manager is basically in charge of the project, but they are not alone.”
Heppleston explained the manager is responsible for putting up and taking down market signs at the entrances to town and to make themselves available between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. to collect rents from the vendors and to assist them with any concerns they may have during the market. Additionally, the prospective manager would need to take a couple day courses related to running the market, both of which are paid for by the Friends of the Morinville Public Library.
But training is not the only thing the Friends pay for. Revenue from the market is used by the Friends to provide the Morinville Public Library with new equipment and resources, something that will be greatly reduced should the farmers’ market fold up its tents and tables. The Friends have recently purchased a children’s bilingual workstation with a touch screen. In the past they purchased another workstation, audio station and the public computers that are a popular item in the library.
Friend member Shelley Faganello is also a farmers’ market vendor. She is concerned with the prospects of the market having to fold up shop.
“It’s grown so much in the last few years it would be such a shame to lose it,” Faganello said. “Definitely more and more vendors looking to be a part of it and there will be people looking for those vendors again.”
Like Heppleston, Faganello sees the weekly farmers’ market as an important part of the community. “I think it’s a huge initiative for the community to come and see things that are being made in their home town,” she said, adding the market is a great opportunity for people in the community to meet and connect. “It’s a great draw for people that are new to the area to come into the main part of town.”
Anyone wishing to obtain more information on the volunteer position can contact April Heppleston at the Morinville Public Library 780-939-3292.