It was Saturday July 16, 1988 and eight producers, including a toy maker, lay their wares on tables parked on a barren lot in St. Norbert
Helen Eidse was one of eight original vendors when the Market started in 1988. (courtesy SNFM)
The small group banded together to sell locally grown produce. Helen Eidse was one of them. Back then, business wasn't exactly booming but the strawberry grower knew she was a part of something special.
"Right away, we fell in love with the market, the customers, the enthusiasm of the people," she says. Eidse has been at the market every year since.
When it opens this Saturday for the start of the 2013 season, she will be there with tables full of strawberries, herbs and fresh-cut flowers. And so will thousands of customers and more than 100 vendors.
"The nice thing about the market is that it has been growing organically. It's been a nice, gradual development," says Marilyn Firth, a vegetable vendor and the market's community services manager.
St. Norbert Farmers' Market started with just eight vendors, now has 150 on the roster. (courtesy SNFM)
It's a stark contrast to the market's early days.
"Let's put it this way, (vendors) had a lot more free time then, than they do now. Now they're busy all day," Firth says.
These days, a sunny Saturday in July attracts about 10,000 customers to the market, which has expanded to Wednesday evenings too.
Over the years, the produce selection has grown. Now, heirloom, multi-coloured carrots are common. (Courtesy SNFM)
Today, the tables and trucks are loaded with a bounty of vegetables, herbs, honey, locally raised meats, fish, sausages, among many other foodstuffs. Bread, pastries and pies loaded with Manitoba-grown berries are also on hand.
Jewelry, handmade clothes and satchels, wooden toys, tie-dyed T-shirts and garden accents broaden the market's selection today.
With live music and food trucks on site, the market has become a go-to stop every Saturday for both customers and farmers.
More than picking up the weeks produce, the market has connected people to the food they eat and the farmers and producers on the fields, says Firth. "It's really lovely because it's bringing Manitoba into the city."
The St. Norbert Farmers' Market opens Saturday June 1.