Minto market update indicates local initiative keeps growing

Proponents of the Minto Farmers’ Market in Clif­ford believe the venue is growing.

Market board member Juan­ita Wilkins and market man­ager Carolyn LeMay re­cent­ly came to council to provide an update on the first year of operations.

LeMay said, “The Minto Farmer’s Market has had a great success. We had 360 visitors on our first day (June 5).”

LeMay estimated that every afternoon between 3 and 7pm the market has between 250 to 350 visitors, and that a business would be pleased at having 350 potential customers on a Friday afternoon.

LeMay said average weekly sales are up 24.5 per cent from June to July, with an average of 12 vendors.

The primary market is locals people, she said.

She believes the locals are pretty evenly matched from Pal­merston, Harriston, and Clifford.

Wilkins said there have been a number of interesting events thus far. “It’s a matter of getting the word out.”

She cited a pie contest, and the Zuchinni 500, which involved wheels stuck into the zuchinni and raced.

“The stalls have been great,” she said.

One of the great wonderful surprises, she said, is how everyone is really helpful.

She cited the example of an individual unloading a truck. By the time that person was finished unloading, his tent had been erected.

“The people in the market are noticing the nice atmosphere. People are having a really great time when they are there.”

LeMay said there is the realization the market supports the downtowns as well. It also provides opportunities for local groups to raise funds.

She noted a number of groups have taken advantage of that opportunity.

Some of the challenges in­cluded signs, which have since been increased, as well as adding more variety to the product line through its vendors.

“We’ve come to our 25% rule.”

Economic Development Manager Belinda Wick-Gra­ham ex­plained if a vendor sells produce and no one else at the mark­et sells goat cheese – the produce seller could sell goat cheese for a friend living within a 50km radius.

That vendor could offer the outside product in the booth – as long as he continues to produce 75% of what is being sold at the booth.

“It adds a bit more variety for our customers.”

Wilkins noted that on Sept. 4, the market is planning a corn roast and the theme for the day is “get pickled.”

“We’re encouraging local producers to pickle whatever they can – from relishes to beets, cucumbers, etc. It could also be jams and-or jellies.”

She added that Oct. 9 marks the last day of the season, which will be celebration -Harvest Hay Days.

Wick-Graham said the market is also acting as a bit of a business incubator.

Wilkins said she had thought of trying a little hobby, baking gluten-free products on Thursdays, and selling it on Fridays.

“It’s sort of mushroomed out of control. I am now in the process of doing a business plan with the hope of opening a bakery in the spring.”

Mayor David Anderson recognized Deputy-mayor Judy Dirksen, the chairman of the market committee.

Dirksen said the Minto Farmers’ Market has a dedicated board of volunteers. She said there is a good group of community members and vendors.

“It’s just incredible.”

She thanked Wesley Bates and Wilkins. who look after the site.

“They keep that property looking really great. It’s just a delight to be there every Friday afternoon.”