Even though winter has made its presence known in Manitoba, farmers are still loading their vehicles with goods and heading to market.
Across the street from the normal venue of the outdoor St. Norbert Farmers’ Market is the Eagles Club, a community centre where customers can now buy locally-grown and handmade goods indoors this winter.
The St. Norbert Farmers’ Market has converted to an indoor format and is open bi-weekly on Saturdays from 10 a.m to 1 p.m.
As shoppers trickle in through the Eagles Club doors, Marilyn Firth, executive director of the St. Norbert Farmers’ Market, talks about the new hours of operation.
“Last year we did a winter market, but it was just online and customers picked up their orders. We got a good response last year and we decided we would have vendors set up tables and bring products,” Firth says.
Bi-weekly winter hours give farmers the opportunity to earn more revenue by having the option to operate at the community club. Some farmers normally have a five-month season to sell their goods, but now they get the chance to operate for most of the year, Firth says.
At the Eagles Club, there are farmers representing Austin, Erickson, Starbuck and Steinbach, Manitoba.
“It is a really positive experience. It’s great to see people come out in the winter,” he says. “We can have face-to-face interaction with customers which is very rewarding, as opposed to us selling bulk to an anonymous distributor.”
Quinoa, which is normally a tricky grain to grow, is becoming more common for farmers to grow in Manitoba, according to Pengelly. Customers are able to purchase a pound of quinoa grown at Tamarack Farms for $12.
Some farmers’ market shoppers scooped up fresh-made chili and cornbread made by Barb’s Kitchen. Owners Henry and Barb Harder make handmade perogies, shepherd’s pies, empanadas and panzerotti, and sell them frozen for customers to take home and eat.
The couple has been selling out of the St. Norbert Farmers’ Market for 15 years.
“We try to buy most of our ingredients locally (and) we thrive on equality. We’ve got people coming from Thompson, Man. to buy goods at St. Norbert Farmers’ Market,” Barb Harder says.
Michelle Sloda comes to the market because she likes buying local. She was happy to be able to fill her pantry with fresh veggies.
“I had run out of stuff that I bought late fall. I was regretting the fact that I had not bought more carrots, onions, and potatoes,” Sloda says. “When I heard this was happening, I was like, ‘Great! I can get more and I can sort of avoid big grocery stores as much as possible.’”