Saturday, 1 February 2014

What's Up Behind The Scenes?

Do you find yourself craving those warm spring temperatures and longing for the days when our neighbourhood roads are clear of gigantic snow piles, rock-hard ice & deep ruts? Believe it or not, those days are right around the corner.

It is less than two months until spring… and that means that outdoor market season is almost upon us! Now is the time when farmers have ordered and are receiving their seeds. By the time March hits… just a few short weeks away… greenhouse growers will open up their greenhouses and start their vegetable, tomato, herb and bedding plant seedlings. As the days grow longer and warmer, calving and lambing season will start. Farmers everywhere will soon be ramping up production for the year. Yup, those warm spring days are right around the corner!

Behind the scenes, the volunteers at the Southwest Edmonton Farmers’ Market are busy planning their 2014 season. This is the time when we reach out to vendors and find out who is returning and who is not, and it is a time when we work hard recruiting new vendors… amazing people who bring top quality food, fruit, veggies, plants and creative and artistic items to market. It is really important that the vendors we find and support sell items that are sourced locally, as that determines our market’s “Alberta Approved” status, and our decisions play an extremely important role in stimulating the local economy.

Our other challenge involves finding just the right mix of artisans, buskers, fruit vendors, veggie vendors, meat vendors, food producers and food trucks to produce a line-up that is competitive, interesting and varied enough to make shopping at the market a fun-filled, worthwhile experience for both shoppers and vendors, so that they will return year after year.

Some of the other behind-the-scenes work involves developing new signage, recruiting volunteers, soliciting sponsorships (because we can't survive without them!), sorting through the stacks of vendor applications, making difficult decisions about who to accept into the market line-up and who to reject, planning educational events, contacting community non-profit groups to use the market’s community tent space, working with organizations like Edmonton’s Food Bank to plan special events, writing the blog posts and figuring out the annual budget.

Think the market just happens, organically? Think again. It takes a tremendous amount of work to make it the vibrant, happening, community scene that you’ve come to love. Your community market is made possible by the financial support of its community-minded sponsors and by the tireless work of its volunteers.  From doing graphic design work to writing newsletters and articles, from website maintenance to photography, from gathering market statistics to setting up tables, from navigating the social media sphere to manning the crosswalks, from sitting on the Steering Committee to directing traffic, there are countless opportunities for you to get involved and to help create a vibrant, sustainable and locally-driven market experience for the entire Southwest community.

If you’d like to be more involved, follow this link: And check out the market website, at for recipes, inspiration, information, fun photos and great local links. And if there’s a vendor you’d like approached, follow the “contact us” links on the website and let the SWEFM Steering Committee know. They’ll do their best to track them down.

Getting excited? Mark your calendar for Wednesday, May 14th… opening day for 2014!

Vendor applications are beginning to trickle in. Here is a list of vendors who are on top of their paperwork and intend to return next year... and there's a new one in there too! See if you can figure out which one it is...
  • Bully Food Truck (every week)
  • Yellow Bird CafĂ© Truck (every week)
  • Sailin' On Food Truck (once a month)
  • Dargatz Family Farm (veggies, eggs, pickles)
  • S4 (formerly TR Greenhouses) (hothouse veggies)
  • Holden Colony (veggies, eggs, pickles)
  • Riverbend Gardens (veggies)
  • AIG (BC fruit)
  • Steve & Dan's (BC Fruit)
  • Sunworks Organics (Chicken, Beef)
  • Strawman Farm (Bison)
  • Expressions by Lori (clothing)
  • Ada's Soap Shop (handcrafted artisan soap)
  • Morrie's Handcrafts (turned bowls, cut words, wooden branch coat racks)
  • The Pink Kernel (snow cones, cotton candy, concession items)
  • Original Canadian Kettle Corn
  • Theo's Greek Kouzina
  • Fat Frank's (hot dogs & smokies)
  • Mini Kitchen (Indian & Thai food)
  • Celebrate, Gluten Free (baking)
  • Raspberry & Cocoa (baking)
  • Sweet Stuff (cupcakes & cookies)
  • Birds & Bees Winery
  • The Mallow Fellow (gourmet marshmallows)
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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee

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