The harsh winds coming off Lake Nipissing, were strong enough to lift a couple of tents off the ground on the last day of the outdoor Farmers’ Market in downtown North Bay Saturday.
It was a sure indication that it is time to move indoors.
Beginning next Saturday, market vendors can be found at the North Bay Mall on Lakeshore Drive, the same location as last winter.
“Next Saturday we will have Customer Appreciation Day at the market. We’ll be giving away reusable grocery bags for the first 1,000 customers. So, away we go again for our fourth winter,” said Wayne Chalmers of Spring Hill Farms and vice-chair of the North Bay Farmers’ Market.
“We will have a full house again. We have four or five new vendors this year. There is always a bit of a change every year, people retiring or moving on. The core vendors are there. We have about 40 vendors again this winter.”
Many growers in the area have greenhouses that extend their season, so there will be an abundance of fresh produce to purchase along with the usual selection of homemade items.
Three or four of us run our greenhouses all winter, so it is making a difference. We have a place to sell our product now, so more and more are getting into the greenhouses and extending their seasons.”
Next Saturday’s opening of the winter market is a couple of weeks earlier than usual.
“We didn’t take any break this year, because the guys that are growing have to have a place to sell their product, so we’re going straight through.”
Just as it did last year, the Farmers’ Market will take up two large store locations.
“We signed up again for another year and we’re looking forward to it.”
Picking up some produce at the last outdoor market for the season, Stephanie McGinn is also looking forward to the move indoors.
“We visited the winter market last year and I have to say it was quite a nice space. You speak to these people who grow food locally and they have all kinds of tricks and tips to grow your own vegetables if you ask. Everyone is so willing to share their knowledge and are proud and happy to share their produce with the community,” said McGinn.
There was a lot of rain that resulted in flooding in some locations in the spring but once the fields dried up, there was no looking back for area farmers.
“It has been a great summer. When that heat came, stuff just jumped. The attendance here at the market has been phenomenal. It seemed to be a long summer this year. It has been a really good year. A really good growing year,” said Chalmers.
“So, we’re looking forward to the winter now.”