The Antigonish Farmers’ Market is expanding to a year-round attraction with more vendors and new offerings to help grow the agri-food sector, while enhancing the market experience for locals and visitors alike.
The Farmers’ Market is expanding with a new building large enough to accommodate more vendors and increase its overall capacity to meet growing demand. The facility will be insulated and open year-round, providing an opportunity for local businesses to increase their revenues and a tourism destination for visitors during the off-season. Vendors will also have access to a brand new commercial kitchen where they can work with the Human Nutrition Department at St. Francis Xavier University to develop new value-added products.
Sean Fraser, Member of Parliament for Central Nova, recently announced federal support for this project.
“Over the last 20 years, the Farmers’ Market has fast become a top attraction in Antigonish,” Fraser said. “Now, it is evolving into its new role of helping small businesses to scale-up and grow into their very own brick and mortar locations. The Government of Canada is proud to invest in this essential community infrastructure that will greatly benefit local farmers, artisans, chefs and their growing clientele.”
The Antigonish Farmers Market has grown and expanded so much over the past 20-plus years, from its humble beginnings in 1995 with a handful vendors to today, seeing hundreds if not thousands of people come through the doors on any given Saturday and a building busting at the seams with vendors,” noted Owen McCarron, Warden, Municipality of the County of Antigonish. He said the market is “not only giving people from our area and beyond the chance to buy locally produced, healthy, sustainable goods, but giving the farmers, growers, crafters, cooks and bakers an avenue to distribute their goods.”
Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher said, “The market builds our rural economy and increases our local food security by being a source for home grown quality food. Beyond the economic and business benefits, our farmers market gives our community access to fresh, healthy foods that promote the importance of healthy eating. The Town is so excited to see this vision for the Antigonish Farmers’ Market become a reality.”
“So many people have worked very hard for so long to get to this point. Everyone deserves to be proud of the work that was accomplished and we look forward to a great future for the Antigonish Farmers’ Market,” noted Casey van de Sande, president, Antigonish Farmers’ Market Association.
· The Antigonish Farmers’ Market first opened in 1995 with only six vendors; it has now grown to more than 60 vendors, with up to ten being turned away weekly due to current space limitations.
· Each year, the Antigonish Farmers’ Market attracts over 70,000 visitors with annual sales in excess of $1 million – making it one of the largest markets in Nova Scotia.
· The total economic impact of the Farmers’ Market on Antigonish and the surrounding communities is estimated to be more than $1.6 million.
· The Farmers’ Market has been instrumental in the start-up and success of a number of businesses that have scaled-up, including Peace by Chocolate, Haveracres Maple Farm, Cornect Family Farm and Steinhart Distillery.
· The Government of Canada is contributing $700,000 to this project through ACOA’s Innovative Communities Fund (ICF). The Municipality of the County of Antigonish and the Antigonish Farmers’ Mutual Insurance Company are each providing $200,000, while the Town of Antigonish is contributing $150,000. Through the generosity of the local community, the Antigonish Farmers’ Market Association raised another $102,000.
· The ICF focuses on investments that lead to long-term employment and economic capacity building in Atlantic Canadian communities.
· The ICF continues to build on the objectives of the Innovation and Skills Plan, a multi-year strategy to create well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it.