Saturday will be the first day back to the stalls for Desnedé Farmers’ Market in Fort Smith. It’s a small victory for the town after Covid-19 threatened the likelihood of markets across the territory earlier this year.
According to vice-president Alyssa Etsell, people have been anxiously awaiting the market’s return from 11am till 1pm. The board has received positive responses to updates on Facebook and Instagram.
Etsell herself is looking forward to Saturday.
“I am excited, and I hope that people come out and that we’re able to have this,” she said.
To remain in-line with the territory’s social distancing orders, the Desnedé market will be copying many of the measures in place at the Yellowknife Farmers’ Market, which opened July 7.
Those planning on attending are encouraged to use hand sanitizer often, stay distanced from other customers, and send only one member per household. Desnedé’s new mantra is “shop, don’t stop:” get your groceries and goods, then leave when you’re done.
This means there won’t be as much opportunity for socializing, Etsell conceded.
There are four vendors booked for Saturday’s market, but this might change with last-minute additions. Currently on the roster are baked goods from Jo’s Doughs, jams and jellies from Gaby’s Wild Harvest, knitted and pickled items from Dana & Gail, and reusable items from Créations Pier-Pier.
Marie-Pier Garant is behind Créations Pier-Pier, where she sells homemade commodities such as oven mitts and aprons. Some of her bestsellers are meshed produce bags, which replace the plastic produce bags at the grocery store.
This will be Garant’s second summer at the Desnedé Farmers’ Market since moving to the NWT from Quebec last May. She has been stitching up a storm so she’ll have ample product ready to sell.
“I have the day off today, so I’m just sewing,” she on Friday. “I’m hoping I will have enough.”
Gaby Koehler of Gaby’s Wild Harvest is on her third year of being a market board member and has sold jams, jellies, and preserves as a vendor for the past five years.
Typically, her favourite part of the market is socializing and meeting new people.
“There are [usually] quite a few tourists or people from Hay River or people coming through for the Paddlefest,” she said.
“Of course, that won’t happen any more – not this year. So, it will be quite different, I think.”
With the distancing, masks, and disinfectant sprays, Koehler’s not sure she’s going to enjoy it as much as she has before.
“I said I will do one market and then see how it is,” she said. “I’m also selling a lot online. So, I’m not depending on the market. But of course, it’s much more fun.”
Both Koehler and Garant said they will not be handling money, so people should bring exact change for their items if they are paying with cash. Koehler is also accepting advanced orders through her Facebook page and e-transfers.
Etsell said the market board has encouraged the use of electronic payments, but said she understands this can be tricky to establish.
The board is hoping to post vendors’ prices on the market’s social media so customers can prepare beforehand.