Strengthening Community Article By: Christina Nunn
The Musquodoboit Harbour Farmers Market is a vibrant meeting place in the centre of the community where you can find local produce, meats, baked goods, and artisanal creations. More than just a place to get your groceries, the Market plays an important role by providing a myriad of social and economic benefits. This includes incubating and supporting local businesses, providing a venue for conscious consuming, being an educational tool for related issues, and acting as a community hub and social gathering place. These factors are why farmers’ markets strengthen communities.
It can be challenging for entrepreneurs to bring their dreams to fruition. Start up and operating costs can prohibit many small businesses from getting off the ground. Farmers’ markets provide valuable opportunities for people to test out their ideas in the local area with extremely low overhead. New businesses can benefit by the direct customer feedback and the chance to learn from and perhaps develop partnerships with other vendors. Existing businesses can also use the Market as an additional revenue stream and promotional tool to reach a larger audience for their goods or services.
Those goods and services are increasingly important to people who choose to consume more consciously as they realize that how they spend their money has far reaching effects. Concerns about the quality of meats coming from animals raised in feedlots, unlabeled GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and pesticide usage are widespread. Farmers’ markets provide ways for customers to access healthy food options with a reduced carbon footprint, while developing relationships with the vendors who grew, harvested, baked, or created the items that people bring home to their families. Vendors often share growing tips, recipes, and detailed information about their products which allows customers to be more proactive in their shopping and choose options that reflect their principles. It also helps to keep consumer dollars circulating more readily on the Eastern Shore and surrounding communities.
Besides the informal education that happens at vendors’ tables, there are opportunities for workshops, presentations, and events highlighting Market-related issues. An example was Seedy Saturday, held in conjunction with the Welcome Spring! Local Food Luncheon at the Petpeswick Yacht Club on March 23. This event facilitated the purchase and exchange of heritage/organic seeds and knowledge of gardening techniques, all while enjoying a fabulous meal made from fresh, local ingredients. Previously, the Market has also hosted a wildly successful Farm Day, complete with farm animals and agricultural representatives, as well as seasonal demonstrations for spinning wool, canning, and seed saving. At every market a table is made available for free to other community organizations such as the Deanery and the Old School, which facilitates cross promotion and allows them to highlight their workshops and related activities.
This sense of cooperation helps to foster community spirit. The knowledge that individuals can participate in the growth of their community, while making choices that reflect their values, is empowering. A market is so much more than an exchange of money for goods. It's an experience and a way of life. Make a difference as you enjoy breakfast and shopping on the next Market day and feel the relaxed, welcoming atmosphere that personifies life on “the Shore”.
To learn more about the MHFM, log on to our website www.mhfarmersmarket.ca to see what’s fresh and new. You can also join the conversation on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/mhfarmersmarket.
From both sites you can add your email address to subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter. If you have a question or are interested in becoming a vendor at our market, please call us at 902-220-9114 or email at email@example.com.