After six years of dreaming, planning and putting ideas into motion, the St. John’s Farmers’ Market Co-operative officially flung open the doors to the new St. John’s Farmers’ Market on Freshwater Road this past Saturday.
Located at the site of the former Metrobus depot, the fully accessible, 14,000 square-foot space is bright, roomy and welcoming, accommodating a large number of local vendors selling everything from waffles and woodcuts to produce, local literature, art and craft, handmade soaps and more. The grand opening was a smashing success that welcomed thousands of visitors, who eagerly mulled about while taking in the sights, sounds and tantalizing smells.
If you were one of the many people who visited the market this weekend, you may have noticed the customized vendor stalls that were sprinkled throughout – just one example of what can be achieved when community, collaboration and the desire to support local align with a common goal.
The vendor stalls were constructed by 15 youth chosen by the Rabbittown Community Centre, under the supervision of John Duchow, creative mentor/lead carpenter. They were produced as the result of a partnership between the centre and the St. John’s Farmers’ Market Co-operative (who took the lead on the proposal application and provided the space for construction), Husky Energy (who provided the financial and material resources), Business & Arts NL (who led the contracting of the professional mentor to lead the project), the St. John’s Tool Library (who provided the required hardware), and the architects/designers Fougere Menchenton and Mark Whalen.
“This was such a great experience for the participants. They benefited from learning wood working skills and safety, teamwork and leadership to name a few. They also gain certification in First Aid and WHMIS. Most importantly from this experience they increased their self-esteem and confidence,” says Lilly Lush, Executive Director of the Rabbittown Community Centre.
“We are looking forward to many more adventures with the St. John’s Farmers’ Market.”
Ann Connors, Executive Director of the St. John’s Farmers’ Market Co-operative, says the project helped build upon a shared sense of community as well.
“This partnership was born of the desire to establish the market in the Rabbittown community and to engage with and work with the residents of the community in which it resides,” she says.
“It truly was a collaborative effort that has resulted in the construction of 30 new permanent vendor stalls, and has given youth and their families some ownership of the new market in their neighbourhood.”
Partnerships such as these benefit not only those directly involved, but the entire community. Aimee Sheppard, Senior Communications Advisor at Husky, says it’s an initiative the company is proud to support.
“We are pleased to be a part of this wonderful community space. This partnership shows the benefits of collaboration and creative thinking. We’re drawing on the skills and resources in our community to provide valuable training and employment to people. We’re bringing together experienced youth workers, artists and craftspeople, transferring that knowledge to young people to increase their awareness of design, safety, teamwork and so much more,” Sheppard says.
“It really is about building a true community asset.”
The partnership is also an extension of what the non-profit St. John’s Tool Library does best – bringing people together.
“Through this unique partnership, it was a great opportunity for us to contribute to the start-up of the Community Market, and to support the Rabbittown Community Centre, which is in our neighbourhood,” says Ian Froude, Executive Director of the St. John’s Tool Library.
“It was a delight to be a part of this and it will be fantastic to see the crafts, food, and farm products spread across those vendor tables.”
The St. John’s Farmers’ Market is a wonderful reflection of the community spirit that is alive and well in St. John’s and will serve the city and surrounding areas for many years to come.
Visit the St. John’s Farmers’ Market every Saturday from 9am-4pm and Wednesdays from 2pm-8pm.