Picking up locally harvested fish, homemade preserves or vegetables fresh from the Northern soil is about to become easier in Yellowknife. An official farmers’ market, the first one in the city since the ‘90s, is slated to run once a week from June to September.
“The community is so ready for it. Everyone I talked to over the last year told me they felt like they just needed someone to step up and make it happen,” said Amy Lizotte, one of the main forces behind the farmers’ market.
Lizotte began online surveys last year to collect market data on Yellowknife’s food preference for her Master’s research at Royal Roads University.
“Almost all of the participants, 96 or 97 per cent, said they would attend a farmers’ market if it was available here. It was one of the only questions where such a majority agreed,” she told The Journal.
After Lizotte’s report detailing the potential for urban farming was released last fall, a group passionate about the local food movement gathered to talk about rejuvenating the once-thriving Yellowknife farmers’ market.
That group, now the volunteer-based Yellowknife Commons Cooperative, is preparing to launch the market this summer in front of city hall on the first weekend in June.
The co-op is so new, in fact, that they are still waiting on approval from the corporate registries to be officially declared a cooperative. Their paperwork is currently being processed.
Yellowknife had a “flourishing” farmers’ market in the 1950s and today the interest in local food is increasing again, as seen in the brimming community gardens where there are waiting lists every year, Lizotte, a founding member of the new cooperative, noted.
But the farmers’ market, unlike the community gardens, is about small scale urban farmers reaping more than one profit from their hard labour.
“The purpose of what the co-op trying to do is resale and allow people to generate their own money from this. The community gardens are not a profitable thing for users. They’re great, but they’re about growing food for yourself,” Lizotte explained.
Five vendors have committed so far, but Lizotte is hopeful more will roll in as spring arrives and the cooperative pumps up its recruitment efforts.
“We’d like to see 10 tables where people are selling, and maybe some selling out of the bed of their trucks…Anyone who grows, harvests or makes food is invited to contact us to set up shop,” Lizotte said.
“You don’t have to have a business to be a vendor. You can sell the bread, salsas and jams you make in your own kitchen.”
The cooperative plans to not only facilitate the market, but go one step further and secure land within Yellowknife that can be specifically designated for urban farmers who want to resell their produce to the public.
To become a vendor or get more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org.