Farmers markets finding success year round in Edmonton
'The key thing is you can actually go and talk to the grower'
It may seem like winter in Edmonton, but you don't have to drive far to find farm-fresh produce in the city.
In the last six months, the city has gone from having one year-round indoor farmers market to three.
The oldest is the Old Strathcona Farmers Market, at 103rd Street and 83rd Avenue, while the most recent is Edmonton Downtown Farmers Market in the historic GWG building at 103rd Avenue and 97th Street.
Less well-known perhaps is the Bountiful Farmers' Market at 36th Avenue and 97th Street.
Bountiful opened in June in a 46,000-square-foot warehouse in an industrial area. The market, open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, now boasts 140 vendors.
You can see more from Bountiful Farmers' Market on Our Edmonton on Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at noon and 11 a.m. Monday on CBC TV and live on the CBC GEM app.
"We've got the fruit; we've got the veggies; we've got homemade perogies; we've got the beef jerky; we've got different sauces," says manager Corinne Olson, who describes the market as having a European feel.
While Olson is hoping to make the market a destination for families with entertainment, crafts, movie nights and other activities, the heart of the market is the family farms and home-based entrepreneurs who stand behind their products in each stall.
"That's their storefront in this 10-by-10 booth and I want them to do well, to succeed and grow," Olson said.
"I love the market; it's got a great energy; it's really bright; it's really vibrant, " Shivonne Stewart said.
Stewart and her parents are behind the Jamaican Chefmon stall which sells jerk hot sauces. They also run the Chefmon Caribbean Grill in the food hall.
"It's a family business and I really love working with my family and growing something together," she said.
The Bountiful market is large and the marketing plan ambitious, "a bold experiment in farmers markets to have it year round, inside and this kind of scale," said Kyle Murray, professor and vice dean at the Alberta School of Business.
The market is well placed, located in a growing part of the city, he said.
"The real estate is cheap and parking plentiful and that's always good for retailers of any type."
With three year-round indoor famers markets and more seasonal venues, does Edmonton run the risk of becoming oversaturated?
Dan Young, president of the Alberta Farmers' Market Association, doesn't think so.
"Certainly when the temperature goes down, the indoor markets are quite well spaced and there's only three of those," Young said. "They're starting to become more and more well attended."
Summer may be a different situation where there are markets "pretty well all over the place," he said, but the bottom line is the same.
"For any farmers market, the key thing is you can actually go and talk to the grower," he said.