We normally do our year in review in January. You know, when people are supposed to do them. However, maybe that’s a new resolution for next year!
We wanted to let you know what we’ve been up to and what our plans are for the upcoming year.
We began the year with Chill Out, getting ready for the Winter Carnival season. Spring was a challenge for many of our farmers. We had a super late killing frost in June and crops across the province were lost. Some numbers say that up to 80% of provincial wild blueberry crops were lost. Many other crops were damaged and the growing season cut short. For the consumer, that meant a little less variety and shortened supply. We had hoped that we might be fortunate enough for a longer, warmer season at the end of the year, but unfortunately Mother Nature didn’t see it it that way and before we knew it, winter made its appearance again.
We announced our plans to Raise the Barn. We are are still working on getting a ballpark on costs which is why you haven’t heard a whole lot more on this yet. As this is a non-traditional build and we are building on the existing dome foot print, there are costs associated with taking down and re-installing electrical and plumbing, dismantling the dome etc. Once we have those costs, we can start looking for grants and kick fundraising into high gear. Vendors have donated/raised over $1200 themselves already!
Thanks to the Aberdeen Health Foundation, we were able to complete one of our goals of making local more accessible in our community. With help from our friends and partners over at Kids First, ten families were given $100 per month to spend at the Market for seven months. The program just wrapped up in January and we are pleased to say that it was very successful. Look for our final report on that coming soon. It is our goal to be able to run the program again this year and we are working hard behind the scenes to expand it.
The Giving Garden has morphed into an educations space. We were able to have some local camps come by as well as a youth group from the YMCA. We were able to talk about how food is grown and have an open conversation around food, the importance of the local food chain and more. They were all great kids and we are always so happy to see how engaged and interested they are in their food and where it comes from and happy to help them re-frame how they think about food.
One of the things we love the most is engaging with our youth and community. We have spoken at several local schools of varying ages. We have covered topics such as why local is important, where we fit in out food supply system, agriculture, entrepreneurship and more. We love engaging wherever we can and are always open to attending events and speaking about how the Market works and the importance supporting local has to our local economy with real life examples. If you would like us to get involved on a specific topic for your school, group or event, you are more than welcome to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
We had some great friends join us this past year. We welcomed yoga at the Market, a reading by Author Sarah Butland and our friends from the New Glasgow Library held a very special pop-up library where guests could even pick up their own card! The YMCA visited us often and brought Y on the Move to host activities for the kids and highlight their upcoming programs. We are very thankful to have had these activities at the Market. We look forward to hosting some more unique workshops. If you are with an organization and would like to join us with an activity, please e-mail us at email@example.com
Events are vital to our sustainability. In addition to table fees, fundraising is part of our operational revenue. It also allows us to contribute to programs like the Healthy Living Program and maintain the Giving Garden. We like to try new and different things and of course, we like to have fun!
In 2018, we hosted a Luau, the All Hallow’s Ball for Halloween and ended the season with our first event Winter Wonderland Gala. Everything was farm to table with as much as possible purchased from our farmers and food vendors and each event was highlighted with some of our amazing local musicians.
Our events compliment our other fundraising initiatives like our monthly 50/50 draws, and our annual Mother’s Day and Christmas baskets.
Keep an eye out for our 2019 events, coming soon!
As we mentioned earlier, our fundraising helps us to make improvements to the Market. These are funded solely with Market funds and sometimes grants. Past improvements have included new appliances, upgrades to fixtures, the Market kitchen and more. There are always little ones that happen throughout the year that you may not notice, but we have two notable ones for 2018.
This year, one of the big things was our brand new heaters. We’d like to extend our sincere thanks the Municipality of Pictou County for contributing $2500 towards these heaters. The remaining $12,000+ was fully paid for by the Market with funds that have been raised and saved over the last years. These heaters are a bit of a game changer for us. Not only did it make the shoulder season in November-December much more pleasant for shoppers and vendors, it means for the first time ever, we will be opening the dome early, beginning March 2nd this year! We have vendors waiting in the wings to join us and we cannot accommodate them because we can’t house them all in the Market building.
Even better, the heaters can be re-used in the barn and then we will have two year round buildings so we don’t have to turn would-be vendors away.
Another improvement we’ve made that is noticeable from all aspects is the addition of a comprehensive software designed specifically for Farmers Markets. This program is being used all across North America and we were one of the the first (if not, the first) Market in Nova Scotia to use this program.
This system allows vendors to apply online, provides for more effective organization and planning and streamlines the application process for users. From a customer viewpoint, you are able to see a real time listing of 2019 vendors and even a Market Map to give you an idea of who is where at the Market on a given Saturday. You can also find vendor profiles and contact information along with their dates of scheduled attendance.
Our partners at MarketWurks and their team of stellar software engineers are always working on making changes and adding improvements to make it a better experience for markets, vendors and patrons.
We are pleased to introduce a new mini-series of weeknight Markets focused on Artisans and Food called Atlantic Arts & Appetites. This is aimed at giving residents and visitors to the area snapshot of local products and music. In addition to local vendors, we are opening this up to anyone across the Maritimes for these special Markets. These market will take place from 4-8pm and are currently set for June 26, July 17 and August 21. Watch for more information. If you are interested in becoming a vendor for this series, you can apply online, just pick the Atlantic Arts & Appetites dates: APPLY HERE
If you are attending only these dates, your sign-up fee is waived
This year we will have our annual Mother’s Day Basket and Christmas Basket as well as our monthly 50/50.
We will have 2 events this year. We will have a summer Farm to Table event, details are still to be confirmed. We are also happy to announce that our Winter Wonderland Gala returns with the Kilted Chef on December 7th, 2019. We’ll keep you posted!
We look forward to an exciting 2019, stay tuned!