The Elmira Farmers’ Market is open for business in downtown, once again bringing the option of locally grown, fresh produce that is a staple of rural Woolwich to township residents. It’s the hallmark of the small yet authentic market, which ekes a place for itself over the hustle and bustle of St. Jacobs’ massive market with its commitment to homegrown fare.
For Allan Martin, who has been taking a leading role in organizing the market for the last 16 years, the Elmira Farmers’ Market offers a venue for farmers and residents to come together on a weekly basis, meet, mingle and build relationships.
It’s also an opportunity for local agriculture to satisfy the growing public demand for fresh and environmentally sound food.
“There is so much passion out there for local produce, and that is strictly what we stand on,” said Martin. “Our slogan is we make it, we bake it and we grow it, and that has gone a long way in helping us to develop to the point that we are.”
The market is growing strong, said Martin, despite the loss of two notable vendors, including Martin’s wife Laurene, who retired her baked goods stall after being with the market since the beginning.
“This year’s farmers’ market is starting out with a completely different twist: we no longer have a booth,” said Martin. “When my wife told me she was going into retirement mode last fall, I said, ‘You can’t!’ But she stuck with her guns.”
But while two vendors left this year, another three have signed on, and Martin continues his role of supporting and growing the local market.
“None of my family is there, but the market has always been my passion right from the day I started looking after the management part, it’s been a passion that has stayed with me. They asked if I would stay on as the manager and I consented to that.”
The new vendors, meanwhile, are bringing some fresh new options to the Elmira market, and some mouth-watering barbeque as well, with pulled pork, sausages and back bacon all planned for upcoming markets.
“At this point, I can say I’m really excited to see what 2019 has for us, because we’re not giving up just because a couple of vendors quit. We’re going forward,” he said. “We left 2018 not knowing if we were going to have anybody to barbeque food, and at this point we now have two different people there serving food.”
The market as a whole has seen an increase in vendor participation, to the point where it has almost outgrown its current location at the Maple Street parking lot, notes Martin. Still, the market is always interested in welcoming new vendors to the mix, says Martin, so long as they follow the Elmira Market’s strict policy that keeps it local.
The Elmira Farmers’ Market runs weekly on Saturdays at the Maple Street parking lot, outside the local Home Hardware. The market is continuing with the longer hours started last year, opening at 8 a.m. and closing at 1:30 p.m. from now until the end of October.
“The ongoing support that we’ve had, not only from Elmira residents, but from everybody that comes out on a weekly basis; we definitely couldn’t do it without the shoppers,” said Martin. “So a huge thank you to all the shoppers that have supported the Elmira Farmers’ Market over the years, and we look forward to being a service to them for many more years to come.”