Sowing Happiness at Wolfville Farmers’ Market

With a global pandemic putting a damper on human activities everywhere, a farmers’ market in the Atlantic Canadian town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia is proof that it’s still possible for communities to thrive during COVID-19. Wolfville Farmers’ Market (WFM) traces its roots back to 1992, when it sprouted up from “just three vendors in a parking lot” according to the market’s website. Under the careful tending of manager Kelly Marie Redcliffe, who began working for WFM two decades ago, it’s blossomed into a fully-fledged economic and social hub that draws in people well beyond its community.

Redcliffe clearly loves her job. She loves how there are “casual conversations and relationships formed”, said Redcliffe. “Every week is different and also the same. There is a mash-up of everything the community has to offer.” The market staff and vendors have been putting more emphasis on WFM2GO – which is an online store in which customers can order products online that would normally be offered at the in-person Saturday markets – and the WFM Market store – which is an in-person store that operates during the weekdays in which the products of various local farmers, chefs, and artisans are sold. Not everyone is comfortable with participating in the big Saturday hub day, but by growing these alternative delivery channels, WFM is finding new ways to continue and deepen its community connections. Many parts of Nova Scotia can be seen through products offered at the market such as haskap berry products, premium coffees from local coffee shops, live music from local musicians, and baked goods from local bakers. WFM2GO and the WFM Market Store have helped increase sales at the WFM during the COVID-19 pandemic. Redcliffe said that she once had 600 orders from customers using WFM2GO.

Farmers’ markets start with finding farmers who are interested in sharing their products with their communities. WFM helps create food security in the Wolfville community. In addition to food security, WFM “adds a sense of belonging” in the community, Redcliffe explained, there is a sense of belonging at WFM that stems from the fact that members of the community can see each other eye to eye, build casual relationships, and engage in conversation. The relationships formed at WFM build networks and connect people which can form employment connections.

The WFM creates a place where people can do good things for the environment, interact with other generations, have access to nutritious and sustainable foods, and create food security for community members of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Strength comes from food security because people can have access to healthy food; what we eat matters, and food security impacts physical, mental, and community health.

In addition to food security, the WFM creates an “entrepreneurial spirit” in the Wolfville community which helps the local economy thrive. As Redcliffe said, “It’s a low-risk, low-cost opportunity for business development.” Many of Wolfville’s businesses start at the WFM before investing in storefronts. The WFM draws in lots of business to the Wolfville community which attracts a lot of tourists which boosts the local tourism sector. While tourism has been down during the pandemic, WFM has focused on new ways of doing things to increase the services and sense of connectedness it provides to locals.

This is how social change in the Wolfville community is sown together by Kelly Marie Redcliffe and the Wolfville Farmers’ Market. How is social change sown into your community?

Be sure to check out the Wolfville Farmers’ Market on Instagram @wolfvillefarmersmarket , Facebook @wolfvillefarmersmarket, and Twitter @wolffarmmarket! They also have a website: http://www.wolfvillefarmersmarket.ca/. Feel free to check out their online ordering system too on the website at www.wfm2go.ca, Instagram @wfm2go, and Facebook @wfm2go.

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