Monday, 10 November 2014

Season Wrap-Up 2014

The snows have arrived and are here to stay and our market’s 4th season has, sadly, drawn to a close. The SWEFM Board, volunteers and vendors would like to send a big thank you out to the community that has supported it so well throughout the season, and to the sponsors that have contributed so generously, allowing the market to develop innovative programs and fun experiences for the community at large. The market has survived and thrived through stormy weather (remember that emergency take down and all that spring rainy weather?), cold temperatures, blissful sunshine and extreme heat… all part of the fun when it comes to an outdoor market!

The market’s goal is to create a community gathering place for the residents of Southwest Edmonton, connecting local farmers, producers and artisans who provide fresh, locally grown and made food and hand-made goods, with the people of Southwest Edmonton, fostering relationships that create a greater sense of community and a stronger local economy. This year saw a few changes happen to the market scene that helped to develop this vision:

Sprouts was a brand new initiative at the market, designed to provide children with nutritional food choices, to empower them to make their own healthy eating decisions, to educate kids about where their food comes from, and to encourage them to lead a healthy lifestyle. It was a tremendous success, seeing over 400 children registered in the program, each receiving $2 wooden tokens to spend on fruits, vegetables and food plants every time they visited the market. The families of children enrolled in the program received weekly emails with recipes designed especially for children to encourage them to experiment in the kitchen, to develop cooking skills, and to take part in family meal prep at home. Over the winter the SWEFM Board will be tinkering with the program to make it more accessible to a greater number of children and families next year.

Nutrition Tours & Experience This! The market is a tremendous vehicle for education and contributes greatly to the physical health of the community at large. Experience This! was a new weekly market experience that helped inform and inspire. Rooted at the SWEFM Information Tent, it highlighted special items brought to market by participating vendors, and encouraged them to have fun and think outside the box when it came to creating and bringing their specialties to our market. Chelsey and Ann, U of A Nutrition students, took market patrons on tours of the market, showing them hidden nutrition gems and helped our shoppers navigate the seemingly complex world of dietary issues. Using themes like Fat Is Your Friend and Protein Power, they provided a wealth of information about making sound nutritional choices, eating gluten free, dealing with food allergies and helping with weight loss.

Buskers The busking line-up was greatly expanded this year to include a wealth of musical talent. From accomplished TRAC Youth Talent Show performers through to a skilled accordion player, acoustic guitar experts, a raspy blues singer and a full-on Ukrainian band, musicians added greatly to the atmosphere of the market. We also added other skilled street performers. Three talented balloon artists and Lady Dolphin, the ever-popular face painter, entertained children at most markets. The Free Will Players came and had their break-out stage fights, the Cheerific Cheer Team did demos, the Sunny Girl Statue came alive when coins were dropped in her watering can and Miranda tossed fireballs around and escaped from her straight jacket.

The Community Tent became a place for residents to connect with the people who are changing the face of Edmonton’s southwest. It hosted Premier Dave Hancock, the River Valley Alliance (responsible for building a comprehensive river valley trail system that includes the new footbridge being built in Terwillegar Park), University of Alberta researchers, the Terwillegar Spray Park organizers, and a host of health & community promoters, along with its usual community league participants. There are a lot of very active and inspiring volunteers in our community, striving to make our City an amazing place in which we can all live, work and play.

Food Trucks have become an important part of SWEFM’s community scene, providing a great reason for people to gather together, connecting over a tasty, easy meal. Bully and Yellowbird CafĂ© were two resident food trucks that brought creative and healthy meal options to the market each week. This season saw the creation of one rotating spot for trucks such as Knosh, Drift and La Poutine that introduced variety to the food scene at the market. And a 4th truck was added during the busy summer months.

Plant A Row, Grow A Row. The market was once again the harvest collection site for the food bank in our city and added a second date this year to its lineup. Shoppers and gardeners could now contribute fresh, nutrient dense real food to those in need of assistance in our community on the last Wednesdays of August and September. Even our Sprouts got in on the donations, using their wooden tokens to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables to donate. We collected 900lbs of fresh food to the Edmonton Food Bank thanks to the generosity of our local community!

Volunteers  will always be the heart and soul of this community project, offering up their expertise, time, creativity and tremendous community spirit to the market. Part of the SWEFM vision this year included giving young people a quality volunteering experience to help them become the leaders of tomorrow. A number of university and high school students came out tirelessly each and every week, contributing tremendous sweat and heart, and helped with a wealth of tasks in many roles.

Should you, or an organization that you represent, want to become more involved in our local market scene or have ideas or feedback to contribute, please contact us through

Thank-you to those of you who took the time to fill out our online survey. We are using your input and ideas to develop and tweak things behind the scenes to make our 2015 season even better than this year!

See you next season!