By Angelica Ingram
Many busy Tuesdays in Head Lake Park and bustling Friday afternoons at the corner of Highway 35 and 118 resulted in a banner year for the area’s farmers’ markets.
Coming to an end for the season in October the Haliburton County Farmers Market has released some preliminary numbers that show the success and continued growth of the food initiative.
Market board chairwoman Angel Taylor said this summer saw a record number of vendors 49 compared to last year’s 38 vendors in addition to several guest vendors.
“Whereas last summer our vendors earned a total of approximately $285000 across two markets this year the earnings approach $450000 with the three markets” Taylor said in an email to the paper.
“This very significant increase indicates that not only have earnings been boosted by the addition of the new Minden location (it operated only 11 weeks) the Carnarvon and Haliburton markets have also grown.”
The future of the Minden market still remains to be seen as the board is scheduled to meet with Minden Hills council on Nov. 12 to begin discussions about next year said Taylor.
A pilot project for this year the Minden market was smaller in size averaging 12 to 18 vendors each Saturday and only ran for 11 weeks.
Operating in the municipality’s parking lot that location will not be available next year due to the construction of a condominium said market manager Marla Force.
“We met with Mark Coleman [director of community services ] and he was very very positive about the market” said Force. “We don’t anticipate that there will be advocating against it … but we have to figure out where we’re going to be.”
A report based on customer surveys completed by Minden market patrons will be made available to the board in early November said Taylor.
“We have received positive feedback from Minden businesses and customers” said Taylor.
The board chairwoman says plans for next year have not yet been firmed up however she expects the Haliburton and Carnarvon locations will continue.
Those markets which ran from May through to October saw strong numbers week after week particularly during the summer months.
For example the Tuesday following the August long-weekend saw more than 2000 people attend the Haliburton market said Force.
“Most of our weeks in the summer were over a thousand people” she said.
With revenue continuing to climb for vendors the presence of the three markets is not only good for local farmers and food producers but also area businesses say both Taylor and Force.
“Given that research indicates that farmers’ markets in Ontario have a multiplier effect of two to three times vendors’ earnings in nearby communities (many market customers also shop at local businesses) it suggests that the farmers’ market is substantially benefiting the local economy” wrote Taylor in her email.
Force agrees and would like to see initiatives such as the Haliburton BIA’s Come to Town Tuesday continue.
“I think the business association has realized it [the market] is good for the town; it’s good for other businesses” said Force.