by Stephen Dafoe
The Morinville Farmers’ Market opens the 2017 summer market season this Friday with their first outdoor market of the year. The market will continue its outdoor run in the arena parking lot on Fridays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. until the fall when it will return inside the arena for the winter season.
Farmers’ Market Manager Korien Sampson said the outdoor market will start with about 15 to 20 vendors, including fruits and vegetables from Red Apple, Young’s Fresh Beef, Codfather’s Fresh Seafood, and Intimate Impressions, the latter a company that makes planters out of towels.
“We’re excited. We’re looking forward to our 32nd season at the Farmers’ Market,” Sampson said. “We’re looking to grow it. We changed our hours specifically so the public can come.”
Sampson said the hours, changed last year to accommodate commuting shoppers, have worked well, although the market had a slow winter season.
Although Sampson recognizes that the economy has had an effect on the Farmers’ Market in Morinville and other communities in Alberta, she also realizes that more customers are needed to keep vendors coming back.
“Sometimes with the price of the product, you think it is cheaper in the store, but the quality is that much higher,” Sampson said, adding the vendors have been dropping prices to help customers. “It’s a lot easier for big companies to truck their produce in than it is for Grandma Lee down the road to grow her garden and put tender loving care into it, so you get you quality vegetables and products.”
Sampson said for the winter market to thrive, they should have been seeing about 200 to 300 customers per week. In the closing weeks of the indoor market, the actual tally through the door was between 50 and 75, a quarter of the number needed to thrive. For the summer market, Sampson said an ideal number is 500 customers per day to start, building to 1000 at the peak. Last year’s numbers show the outdoor market ranging between 300 to 400 each week.
“If we could start the outdoor market at 500 and build to 1000, you’d see a totally different market,” Sampson said.
The Morinville Farmers’ Market runs this and every Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. A special Farmer’ Market will also run during Festival Days starting June 16.