More than 1,200 people went shopping before noon on Saturday at the first winter farmers’ market of the year.
Running every second Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the winter market features about 40 vendors selling everything from local produce to handmade children’s toys.
“Way above our expectations. I think it represents the natural growth of the market. Every season we have more and more customers.” -Market manager Danilo González
The St. John’s Farmers’ Market runs the winter market, an extension of its regular season that operates from June to December, at the regular Lions Club Chalet location.
With a growing demand for local products, the organization saw the need for a smaller-scale market during the winter months.
Market manager Danilo González explains vendors have less space to work with in the winter months because they can’t make use of the outdoor space like they do in the summer and fall.
“And it’s mostly focused on the most popular items,” he said, noting that due to the time of year, most vendors are selling prepared foods, meat, and crafts, as local produce is more limited.
While the volume of produce may not be the same in the winter, there are still five different farm vendors selling a variety of produce, such as root vegetables and leafy greens.
Many customers also come for the prepared food, such as the fare offered by the popular Curry Delight vendor.
Co-owner Muhammad Nasir says the first day of the winter market was “fantastic”.
“We couldn’t be happier,” he said.
The crowd that filled the market on Saturday was more than organizers expected.
“Way above our expectations,” said González. “I think it represents the natural growth of the market. Every season we have more and more customers.”
One of those customers is Gloria Jones, who says it was her first time coming to a farmers’ market.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, and there’s a lot of local things,” she said. “I love shopping local.”
González says that growing number of new customers, paired with the already large number of regular customers, is why the market is moving to its new location at the old Metrobus location on Freshwater Road this year.
He says construction is in “full swing” and should be completed by the beginning of spring, but the market needs time to transition to the bigger space. It will likely be late July before the new location is operational, with the official grand opening slated for the fall.
“We need to take some time to prepare ourselves,” he said.
“We are expecting 6,000 people coming every Saturday, and 2,500 people coming on Wednesdays. So, that means a lot of fresh produce will have to be good to go, and that’s why we need to wait at least until late July.”
In addition to adding the extra day on Wednesday evening, the new location will also boast a coffee shop that will run on market dates initially, then gradually transition to staying open throughout the week.
In the meantime, the next winter market is scheduled for Feb. 10.