YK farmers’ market wants to help you sell your fruits and veg
The Yellowknife Farmers’ Market returns next month with a push for residents to grow their own vegetables and sell them at the market, helped by new supports.
The NWT market is unique compared to southern counterparts as, unlike markets in the provinces, only a small minority of vendors in Yellowknife sell fresh fruit and vegetables. Organizers hope to change that.
“That’s the number-one comment we get from people,” longtime Yellowknife farmer France Benoit told city councillors during a presentation on Tuesday.
Benoit, a founder of Yellowknife’s farmers’ market who now serves on its board, said backyard gardeners will be encouraged to grow produce and bring their excess harvest to the market.
“Now more than ever we need to learn how to feed ourselves,” she said, highlighting the recent devastation of farms by flooding in Hay River, severe drought in California, and heatwaves and floods in British Columbia last year.
With funding from the territorial government, the Yellowknife market is providing gift cards to local garden centres for residents who agree to bring produce to the farmers’ market at least twice this year.
The Yellowknife market sells growers’ produce on their behalf at its harvesters’ table each week. It has developed a manual on how to start a harvesters’ table, which the NWT government is distributing to other communities who are interested in doing the same.
“We all have excess produce at some point,” Benoit said. “If 10 people bring their one zucchini, then we have 10 zucchinis.”
Later in the season, she said the market hopes to connect with people who have berry bushes or Saskatoon trees who are unable or don’t want to harvest the berries themselves.
To further increase local production of vegetables, the market has hired a garden coach who will be at the harvesters’ table each week to answer questions. A series of lunch-and-learn workshops began late last month.
Benoit added the farmers’ market is working on a land-share program that connects people who want to grow food but don’t have the space with those who have a greenhouse or garden bed to spare.
Finally, the market has hired a “garden angel” who will help to maintain about a dozen raised garden beds in the city’s downtown – the beds were donated to the market – as well as harvest produce for people who are unable to do so themselves.
This year, Benoit said, the market – which runs from June 7 until September 15 – will have 43 vendors, half of which are new, and more local artisans than ever.
She said the market is like an “incubator for small businesses” as it provides advertising, a location and insurance, among other supports.
“We’re hoping for a good season,” she said.