This past weekend was an exciting one - Saturday, June 6th, 2009 marked the first Farmers' Market of the second season for the St. John's Farmers' Market, and the first Farmers' Market of the first season for the West Coast Farmers' Market in Corner Brook .
90% of the fresh vegetables available in Newfoundland & Labrador are imported, leaving only 10% produced locally. Major Wholesalers have indicated that due to this reliance on imported foods, the province would only have a 2-3 day supply of perishable vegetables in the event of a crisis that disrupted supply.
-"Wholesale & Other Opportunities in the Vegetable Industry of NL" Dept. of Natural Resources, Forestry & Agrifoods Agency
This statistic is what so many initiatives happening across the province are working towards correcting, including the recent sprout of Farmers Markets.
The St. John's Farmers' Market has only just begun its second year, and already a huge difference can be seen. The beginning of the St. John's Farmers Market in 2008 did not appear, to the untrained eye, to be much of a typical 'Farmers' Market'. The vendors consisted of craftspeople, bakers, artisans, and a couple farmers. This limited number of farmers lead to some negative attention and overall concern for the survival of a Farmers Market in the St. John's region.
Newfoundland has been pegged as "The Rock" by many and along with this there is a common belief that nothing can be grown on this "Rock" of ours, especially considering the extreme weather conditions and short growing season. With this, the notion of a Farmers Market seems to be somewhat out of reach.
First of all, despite what you may have heard, you can in fact grow food on the rock, you just may need to be a little more creative as to how you grow & selective in terms of what you grow.
Second of all, Farmers' Markets, as evidenced by this past Saturday help encourage those farmers that are growing, raising, producing our food to produce more, and to produce what it is that people want to eat.
The first St. John's Farmers' Market in 2008 was bare in terms of local food. Now, here we are, a mere year later and the first St. John's Farmers' Market of 2009 is full of garden-fresh spring vegetables, potted herbs, and flowers, on top of delicious baked goods, hot meals, crafts, artwork, and much much more. After seeing the potential opportunity of the Farmers' Market in the 2008 season, Farmers' spent the winter months planning for the June start of the St. John's Farmers' Market 2009 season. Seedlings were started early in greenhouses, and crops were selected based upon success from the previous year.
Not only is there increased local demand and supply of fresh food in the St. John's region, there is also stimulated interest around Farmers' Markets across the province. The West Coast Farmers' Market had its' first successful market this past Saturday, June 6th with regular markets beginning on July 11th through until October 31st, and Conception Bay South is planning to start a Farmers' Market this coming August.
By working together, attending Farmers' Markets, starting Farmers' Markets, and purchasing food produced locally, we can become more engaged with our food system, and flip that statistic around.
Let's make it heard - You can Grow Food on this Rock of ours!
For more information about the West Coast Farmers Market, visit http://wecnl.ca/Farmers_Market/Farmers_Market.html or email Corinne Hynes at firstname.lastname@example.org