By Stephen Petrick
Amid the coldest days of winter, the Haliburton County Farmers’ Market is thinking about spring … and hoping to find new local vendors.
The application process for vendors who wish to have tables this coming season has started. To apply fill out a form at https://betahcfma.wordpress.com by Jan. 31.
This year the market is especially encouraging new local agricultural producers and “backyard growers” to apply.
New market manager Lauren Phillips said, traditionally, many of the market’s vendors are from rural areas to the south, such as Lindsay or Buckhorn, likely because there’s more prime agricultural land there. She’s hoping to have more Haliburton County growers on board this year. She encourages people who may have just a small farm or a few products that they grow to apply. For those who may not be able to commit to selling on every market day, there’s also a “community table” which several small businesses can share throughout the year.
The first market of the season is scheduled for Tuesday, May 17 at Head Lake Rotary Park in Haliburton. The market then opens at the Minden Fairgrounds on Sunday, May 21. Starting on June 17, the market will also be held weekly at the Stanhope Firefighters’ Community Hall on North Shore Road.
There is no shortage of good reasons to support the market, Phillips said.
“You’re supporting the local economy and your community,” she said. “It’s a great draw for tourists and for locals. The market has something for everyone, from kids, to dogs, to grandparents.
“It’s nice to do as a family outing,” she said, adding that the Haliburton market takes place with the fabulous backdrop of the lake. “It’s fun to go for a walk and see what everyone is making.”
The Haliburton and Minden markets usually have 20 to 25 vendors; the Stanhope one is usually a little smaller.
Among the regular vendors are Raisin the Root, a Haliburton County-based business that sells vegan and gluten-free food. There’s also McLean Berry Farm, a well-known business for in-season berries, including strawberries.
Arts and crafts are also sold at the markets, but to comply with Farmers’ Markets Ontario regulations, the Haliburton County Farmers’ Market must have more than half of its vendors selling agricultural products.
Those who participate in the market are also carrying out a long and popular tradition. On any given market day, the market can see 1,000 to 1,500 customers, Phillips said. She estimates that more than 20,000 customers attended over the course of last year.
COVID-19 had impacted their operations somewhat – the tables may be more spread out now – but the market is an essential service. If anything, the pandemic might be resulting in more traffic, she said. Local residents have less ability to travel far away and are choosing to stay and shop local.
“We definitely saw a lot of tourists last summer; people coming from all over Ontario, stopping in Haliburton. There were cottagers and day trippers; there definitely seems to be more domestic travel.”
She also stressed how impactful it is to support local vendors. Buying locally, she explained, lessens the need for imported food, which leads to less transportation and less carbon footprint. At the same time, it supports the local economy. “It’s a direct economy,” she said. “There is no middle man.”
For more information on the market visit, betahcfma.wordpress.com.