Nfld. & Labrador

New St. John's Farmers' Market opens doors to thousands of customers

People came in droves to check out the brand new community market on Freshwater Road in St. John's.

9 years in the making, the new facility at the former Metrobus depot is open

The new St. John's Farmers' Market opened for business on Saturday. (John Pike/CBC)

The ribbon by the front doors hadn't been cut for 30 seconds before hundreds of people flocked inside to get a look at the new St. John's Farmers' Market.

They were met by dozens of vendors selling everything from dog treats to jewelry, and by the aroma of traditional food from countries all over the world.

"I've been really looking forward to today," said Jessica Crocker, a customer. "I love it. I love having a place that's going to be here all the time."

A farmers' market is nothing new for St. John's — it had operated at the Lions Chalet off Bonaventure Avenue since 2008.

Josh Smee, chairperson of the St. John's Farmers' Market Co-Operative, gives a speech before cutting the ribbon and opening the market. (Ryan Cooke/CBC)

But that location was an event space that doubled as a market on weekends, whereas the new building is a new dedicated home for the market, said Josh Smee, chair of the co-operative that runs it.

"It just struck me how much of a community spirit there is to this place," he said. "Our market more than any other farmers' market I've ever seen relies on volunteer help and on commitment from people, and that was in spades this morning."

The co-operative had been eyeing the Metro Bus depot as a potential home since 2008. In 2012, they began talking with the city about acquiring the space.

It took six years of planning and construction — along with more than $2 million from the city — but the building opened to rave reviews on Saturday.

"This has been incredible," Smee said. "It's been a dream come true for everyone who's been involved in this thing to see this building open and to see hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people walking through with a smile on their face."

'It's giving me a greater market'

It's also a welcome move for the vendors, who were working elbow to elbow at the old location.

The new home gives them more space to operate and also allows more space for their customers to park, line up and sit down to eat.

"There's a lot of vendors here, people who are wanting to expand their business. So it's great for them," said Mimi Sheriff, who runs her food business, Gursha NL, at the market.

Mimi Sheriff sells Ethiopian food at the St. John's Farmers' Market. (John Pike/CBC)

"I really started it to introduce Ethiopian food to St. John's and so I think [the new space] is giving me a greater platform to allow people to learn about the cuisine and to try something a little different. It's giving me a greater market."

The St. John's Farmers' Market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and every Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

On Sunday the building will also host a day of music and food from 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., with performances by Mallory Johnson, Danielle Hamel, Bollywood Jig, the Filipino Women's Dance Group, the African Dance Group and many more.

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