Moncton. Dieppe. Shediac. Salisbury. Petitcodiac. Alma. They all have one – and now Riverview does, too.
You’re forgiven if you think this isn’t new. A market was being held in Riverview on Wednesdays for the past year. There was also an incarnation before that, an indoor/outdoor set up at The Chocolate River Station. But both of those markets ceased to exist and are not connected to what began this week.
The new Riverview Farmers Market is owned by Kelsie-Ann Caissie and Tosh Taylor. The pair, operating under the name LadyBoss Collective, pitched the idea of a floating farmers market during Riverview’s Sustainapalooza event. I thought it was a fantastic idea then and was thrilled to see it materialize this week.
The pair have a solid strategy for establishing their event as a weekly must-attend occurrence. They’ve created partnerships with the Town of Riverview (which provided a $1,000 micro grant for the market) and the Riverview Arts Centre, attaching the mobile market to other summer events, such as the Town’s Canada Day celebrations and the Wednesday night concert series.
The Wednesday date also serves to complement the families who already shop heavily at the established weekend markets in Moncton and Dieppe. A mid-week top up could be a draw for more than just Riverview shoppers.
It’s a great plan. Bring the market to an established audience. Build the connections. Show the value. Then when the warm weather fades, you can expect at least a portion of your summer shoppers will follow you inside to enjoy a year-round, mid-week market. Hopefully.
Farmers markets appear to be peaking in popularity in North America. Although the market format surged for several decades (going from 1,755 in the U.S. in 1994 to more than 4,385 by 2007, and nearly double that by 2014), the rate of growth has slowed to about 1.5%. It’s not so much a decline in overall popularity as it is a plateau. There are finally enough markets to meet the demand.
Generally we here in Maritimes seem to run a few years behind most trends, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re still seeing new markets pop up to fill gaps in the supply chain.
One wonders if those statistics about the popularity of farmers markets, combined with the plethora of options in the Greater Moncton Area, are part of the reason previous attempts at a farmers market in Riverview failed to create a weekly destination event. If so, the new owners may have a tough challenge ahead, notwithstanding the need to find a permanent indoor location in the next couple of weeks. But I think their decision to combine their market with established event, while also hosting other vendor fairs to build relationships with various local businesses, expands beyond the typical model and could be successful.
And they have another piece to their strategy – playing on the pride of Riverview residents who want a farmers market to claim as their own.
“We are proud to live on the ‘right side’ of the river and call Albert County home,” quips Kelsie-Ann. “We have chosen to raise our young, active families in a smaller community, with many green spaces, seasonal events and festivals, and numerous free activities. We also want access to as much fresh, local, and organic produce as possible. We want to help other local home-based businesses support their families, as well as our own.”
It will be curious to see if a town that won’t allow urban chickens will fully embrace a farmers market. I hope it does.
She Said appears Saturday in the Times & Transcript.