Hundreds turned up to check out the first ever Downtown Farmers’ Market in Winnipeg on Thursday.
The Downtown BIZ initiative took over the Manitoba Hydro Plaza for the afternoon, with live entertainment and dozens of stalls offering wares from local farmers and artisans.
Bread, meat, fresh produce cupcakes, even maple syrup were among the offerings.
"I was looking forward to this," said downtown resident Mary McKay. She lives just blocks from the plaza and said it was the first time she was able to go to a farmers’ market.
"This is my first time I come to a farmers’ market because I don’t go that very far," she said.
She said she would like to see the market available year round "especially in downtown, where we seniors can walk and get their stuff."
So far the market is only scheduled to be open each Thursday until Sept. 5, but at only one week in, shoppers say it’s already filling a major gap in grocery availability downtown.
Downtown residents have seen at least two major grocery stores close down in the last year, and developers have had difficulty attracting businesses to replace them.
The executive director of the Downtown BIZ, Stefano Grande, said it’s possible the market could go beyond the planned Sept. 5 end date.
"Who knows where this might go," he said. "We know the residents were a little bit upset about a grocery store closing downtown, and so we’re hoping the fresh produce, fresh vegetables will help them in dealing with some of those challenges."
Downtown residents aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits of the market -- vendor Trudy Penner traveled from her Niverville farm to the city to sell her wares on Thursday.
"I was kind of wary of coming here because it was a new market," she said.
But the response was quick, she said. "It’s just been great."
The farmers’ market will return to the Manitoba Hydro Plaza on Graham Avenue next Thursday at 11:30 a.m.