Montreal

Montreal North market sells affordable local produce in food desert

A market in Montreal North is making fresh local produce more accessible to residents by cutting out retailers and keeping prices low.

Market with two locations keeps prices down by dealing directly with local farmers

Les Marchés du Nord opened this weekend for the second year to offer local produce at lower prices than grocery stores. (Navneet Pall/CBC)

A market in Montreal North is making fresh local produce more accessible to residents by cutting out retailers and keeping prices low.

Les Marchés du Nord is in its second year and looking to welcome as many people as possible.

"There's a demand for this here," said the market's coordinator Michel-Ange Imboua.

He explained there are many low-income families in Montreal North who find it difficult to "make ends meet."

The market was created by the Panier Futé Coop in Montreal North, an organization that aims to increase the accessibility of affordable, healthy food in the neighbourhood.

Imboua says the local produce the market sells is less expensive than in supermarkets because the coop reached out to producers and farmers directly.

"Our goal is not to make money," he said. "Our goal with the market is really to give people access to food at low prices."

'Our goal with the market is really to give people access to food at low prices,' says the market's coordinator, Michel-Ange Imboua. (Navneet Pall/CBC)

The food is also less expensive because producers don't have to send employees to spend the weekend at the market selling the food — market volunteers do it for them. 

There's only a small premium to help pay for the gas it takes to pick up produce from farmers. 

A 2007 study of Montreal's food deserts, areas where residents need transit to access grocery stores, found Montreal North was one of the city's most deprived districts.

The market is set up two locations — on Charleroi Street every Saturday and in Parc Henri-Bourassa on Sundays — to increase accessibility. 

Bus and metro to the supermarket

Marie-Sara Soukpe, a member of the Panier Futé coop, says it's hard to find affordable healthy food in Montreal North. (Navneet Pall/CBC)

Marie-Sara Soukpe said she became a member of the coop and volunteers at the markets because she realized how difficult it could be to find healthy food at low prices when she moved to the neighbourhood.

"I needed to take the bus and the metro to go to the nearest shop to get whatever I needed," Soukpe said, adding the market is a great activity in itself. 

"It's a great place to come and talk to people, come socialize. We want people to meet each other and help the neighbourhood get more friendly," she said. 

The Marché du Nord offers local produce without looking to make a profit. (Navneet Pall/CBC)

Tony Petronelli, who'd stopped by on a walk Saturday, agreed. 

"It's one of the few times where you can get fresh, locally grown produce right at your doorstep, close by," Petronelli said. "It's a nice environment, too."

With files from Navneet Pall

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