In the beginning was a Vision! The empty green space in front of Robert McClure United Church that grew mostly weeds, gophers and bunnies, would become the site of a bustling Farmer’s Market!
The Vision caught fire and burst out into the community with the help of energized volunteers, leadership and a grant from the United Church of Canada.
The McClure Farmer’s Market operated on Fridays, from 3:30 to 7:30 pm, June 2nd to September 29th 2017, rain or shine. The last two months of Market Days, an average 233 people came to shop, eat hamburgers and delicious Food Truck items, listen to music, dance with Wild Rose Critters, buy fresh fruit and produce to take home, buy baked goodies which often didn’t make it home, try on knitted hats or shawls or purses, play Market Stall Bingo, buy jams and jellies, sample bannock and bison chili, chat with the Mayor of Calgary, and generally have a great time!
The learning curve was steep. None of the volunteers had ever been involved in setting up a market, or even knowing where to begin. Advertising, marketing, finding vendors, completing contracts, designing the green space layout, communicating with vendors and volunteers, booking musical acts and entertainers, were just some of the things that needed to be organized immediately.
Then there was completing grant applications, investigating student-hiring procedures, hiring a student to be the Market Manager, studying city bylaws concerning advertising signs, designing, purchasing and placing signage, organizing and supporting volunteers. “We learned a lot,” says one of the amazing volunteers, “and there was a lot to learn!”
A core group of four volunteers managed the Market. They see the success of the summer in establishing a non-threatening presence in a diverse neighbourhood, nourishing relationships and community connections, and providing opportunities for varied vendors, artistes and musicians to showcase their talents.
They plan to build on that success and have great plans for 2018. Those plans include improving the green space where the Farmer’s Market is held so it becomes a year-round community hub, offering cultural groups and organizations space for concerts, festivals and events. The dream is to strengthen cross-cultural and social relationships, break down isolation and barriers, with the church at the centre of a unique community.
The 2018 McClure Farmer’s Market will run on Fridays, 3 pm to 7 pm, June 15th to September 28th, rain or shine, at 5510 26 Avenue NE in Calgary.