Celebrating 10 years of community connections at Rockwood Farmers’ Market

ROCKWOOD – When the Rockwood Farmers’ Market kicks off its 2024 season on June 12, it will be launching a season of celebration for a milestone anniversary.

“When people come to the market, there are going to be a lot of value-added experiences,” said Jen MacLeod of the activities planned in honour of the market’s 10th anniversary.

MacLeod, a volunteer organizer of the market, has been involved since its inception.

“It started with a small group of community members who were looking for ways to bring people together in Rockwood,” she said.

But the group, who was also involved in a local community garden, was interested in more than just socializing.

“We were also a group of like-minded people who wanted to support local and connect with farmers,” said MacLeod.

The market is a “true farmers’ market,” meaning at least 51 per cent of vendors are farmers or producers. But it goes beyond that.

“We call ourselves a makers’ market, meaning that there are no commercially-made products. Everything that’s there is handmade by the vendors, with very few exceptions,” MacLeod said.

It runs on Wednesdays from 4 to 7pm at Rockmosa Park, in the parking lot behind the Rockmosa Community Centre.

MacLeod said running it on a Wednesday provides a venue for farmers who have mid-week produce to sell. It also allows the market to attract farmers who would sell elsewhere on a Saturday.

“We get a high calibre of vendor,” MacLeod said.

It has taken some trial and error over the years to find what works, but there has always been a focus on farmers, and on supporting local businesses, she added.

Anniversary celebrations, supported by a grant from Farmers’ Markets Ontario and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, will continue with that theme.

Perhaps the biggest draw will be a series of monthly cooking demonstrations featuring fresh local produce, and an opportunity to sample what is made.

Dora Tsagias, from Rockwood caterer and retailer Tithorea, will provide the demonstrations on June 12, July 10, Aug. 14, Sept. 11 and Oct. 9.

The recipes will also be shared, said MacLeod.

She noted the market hopes to create a cookbook, and there will be a place where people can submit recipes they would like to share for the project.

Other fun planned this season includes live musical performances, children’s activities sponsored by local businesses, and a “Christmas Eve in July” themed market on July 24.

That’s in addition to the regular slate of vendors that MacLeod says covers “all the staples of produce – mushrooms, meats, eggs,” as well as cider, wine and beer.

There is also a regular rotation of food trucks offering customers “some fun things that aren’t typically available locally,” she said.

It’s a nice option for people who might be fatigued at the thought of preparing mid-week meals, she added.