Emo’s “Local Market” has been running each Friday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. next to Rainy River Meats on Front Street since June—and organizers would like to see more vendors participate.
“We’ve really only had a couple of people come out so far,” noted Krista Anderson of the Northwestern Health Unit office in Emo, though adding it has the potential to thrive.
She stressed a farmers’ market is a positive addition to Emo and surrounding communities.
“With the neighbouring Clover Valley Farmers’ Market [in Fort Frances] closing its doors earlier this year, local residents [were] left with little option as far as accessing locally-grown and produced goods,” Anderson said.
She also noted the Rainy River Valley Food for All (RRVFFA) group—comprised of individuals interested in food, agriculture, community health, and the environment—came to an end more than two years ago after many uphill struggles.
“The goal of this group was to improve the awareness and economics of locally-produced foods,” Anderson explained, noting a lack of funding and resources, combined with lack of manpower, found this group unsuccessful at the time.
“The demise of this group further increased the need for a farmers’ market in Emo, and the importance of working together as a community to promote locally-grown and produced food,” Anderson remarked.
The notion of a farmers’ market in Emo is not a new one.
“There have been attempts made in the past to start up a small market, but a lack of structure, organizational manpower, and resources found these attempts unsuccessful,” said Anderson, noting some vendors tried setting up a market under the grandstands at the fair grounds a few years ago.
But then last year, A.G.’s Produce, operated by Jan and Annie van Rozen, committed to selling produce on a weekly basis and found there to be significant interest from the community.
“Enthused by this, a small group formed a committee with the goal of launching a farmers’ market in 2016,” said Anderson.
The committee includes representatives from the Northwestern Health Unit, Rainy River Meats, A.G.’s Produce, the Rainy River Regional Abattoir, and the Emo Agricultural Research Station.
“A trial market ran during Emo Spring Fever Days and despite less-than-ideal weather conditions, [it] was quite successful,” Anderson recalled.
But in order to continue to be a successful market, organizers still are seeking sellers of fresh produce, locally-raised meats, handmade natural fibre knit-wear, fresh baking, locally-produced jams and jellies, handmade home decor, and more to participate as vendors.
“[We’re] preferring anything that’s locally-grown, homemade, or locally-crafted items for now,” said Anderson, though adding space is limited.
There is no fee currently for people to come and set up, although vendors need to bring their own tables.
“We had applied for funding but unfortunately we weren’t successful with that,” Anderson noted, adding they would have used the funding to purchase tables and pop-up shelters.
Nonetheless, they still are able to have the market without that funding.
Anderson said the main vendor has been A.G.’s Produce, which offers a variety of locally-grown fruits and vegetables.
“We are part of Emo and we want to keep the Emo market going,” stressed Annie van Rozen.
“So we are trying a little harder to get some more vendors.”
She noted she has plenty of customers who make of point of visiting her booth each Friday to pick up their fresh produce.
“I would really like to have a complete Emo market,” van Rozen remarked, noting more participating vendors would entice more people to stop by the market.
While she understands the focus on locally-grown or produced items, van Rozen thinks it’s a good opportunity for any local entrepreneurs.
“All small businesses need a space,” she reasoned. “Only setting up on holidays at the Legion doesn’t cut it.”
Besides her produce, van Rozen’s grandchildren have set up a booth featuring lemonade and brownies.
Anderson said she’s heard plenty of positive comments about this year’s market—despite there only being a few venders participating.
“People have said this is just what we need,” she noted.
“People really want it so we’re hoping to help it grow so that it can be a little more sustainable and draw people out.”
And while Anderson knows this is a busy time of year for people, she has had some vendors express interest, so she’s hoping they start to come out to the market.
“I think the word is still getting out, but hopefully we will be able to help it grow a bit more this year and then continue to grow next year,” she said.
For more info, contact Anderson at 482-2211.