Amherstburg Farmers Market opens for 2014 season

 

Sully and Gully, the town’s tourism mascots, go through some of the produce for sale at the Amherstburg Farmers Market Saturday morning at the Malden Community & Cultural Centre. The AFM is also open Tuesdays from 2-7 p.m. at Toddy Jones Park.

Sully and Gully, the town’s tourism mascots, go through some of the produce for sale at the Amherstburg Farmers Market Saturday morning at the Malden Community & Cultural Centre. The AFM is also open Tuesdays from 2-7 p.m. at Toddy Jones Park.

Chanel Bouchard restocks some of the produce at her family’s spot during the opening day of this year’s Amherstburg Farmers Market (AFM) last Saturday at the Malden Community & Cultural Centre. Bouchard Gardens has been one of the vendors that have been at the AFM in all five years of the market’s existence.

Chanel Bouchard restocks some of the produce at her family’s spot during the opening day of this year’s Amherstburg Farmers Market (AFM) last Saturday at the Malden Community & Cultural Centre. Bouchard Gardens has been one of the vendors that have been at the AFM in all five years of the market’s existence.

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Farmers Market (AFM) has opened for the 2014 season with the first of two locations opening last Saturday.

Roughly 12 vendors were at the Malden Community & Cultural Centre for last Saturday’s first day of the market’s season with the second day being Tuesday at Toddy Jones Park. The AFM is in its fifth year at the Malden Community & Cultural Centre and hours there are every Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Toddy Jones Park will be used as the AFM’s second location this year with that site being open 2-7 p.m. Tuesdays.

Anne Rota, the town’s manager of tourism and culture, said there was a steady flow during Saturday’s opening day.

“The new AGCO project has been a bonus,” she said. “It’s drawing a lot of customers.”

Rota explained that the AGCO project is a two-year pilot project that allows wineries with an existing retail store to expand to sell VQA wines at Ontario farmers markets.

“We’re the fourth province to give this a try,” Rota added, noting that British Columbia, Quebec and Newfoundland already do such initiatives. “This is a real bonus for Ontario especially because Amherstburg is a gateway to our wine industry.”

The number of vendors will fluctuate as the season progresses, she added, as farmers will bring products fresh out of the field as they become available.

“The thing with farmers markets is that they don’t all come at once,” she said. “It’s what is in season.”

The Malden site is catching on, she believed, as people are eager to purchase food that is fresh and locally grown.

The addition of Toddy Jones Park on Tuesdays will help with “expanding the vendor base for an arts and crafts vibe downtown, with the addition of a two year pilot from AGCO where VQA wines will also be sold at this year’s operations, should satisfy both rural and urban appeal,” she said.

“Amherstburg Farmers Markets is a movement towards strengthening the local food distribution and sustainable practices. Markets decrease “food miles” and the time it takes for food to get from farm to fork,” Rota continued. “Also, adding the element of local crafters can be an important anchor for vibrant communities creating unique social ties for artists and consumers alike. We anticipate the first few weeks at Toddy Jones to be a soft start but I’m guessing it will become very popular once the season progresses. Openings are still available to join in becoming a vendor.” s

Applications to become a vendor are available at www.amherstburgfarmersmarket.com.

Tom O’Brien, an owner with Cooper’s Hawk Winery and past president of Essex Pelee Island Coast (EPIC) Wine Country, said it was going better than he thought it would Saturday morning.

“They are buying some food and they are buying some wine,” he said. “We are going to have different wineries here every week. We are excited to be part of the Amherstburg Farmers Market.”

O’Brien said being allowed to participate in markets like the AFM is recognition that wines are farm products. He added there were staff on site that would help customers find food that would go well with the wines they purchase.

Chanel Bouchard of Bouchard Gardens said her family’s booth had a good flow of customers on the opening Saturday. She added they had been at the AFM all five years.

“We’ve been really steady today,” Bouchard said Saturday morning.

 

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