Steps from Market Hall, where the first historical farmers’ market operated in the city, the Peterborough Regional Farmers’ Market has found a new winter home — where a community of local food vendors, artists, farmers and shoppers can come together every Saturday until the end of April.
Pulling into the parking garage on the first morning of the indoor market, the curated experience begins immediately.
The free parking sign is out, welcoming visitors to the space, and bold and easy-to-follow signage leads a crowd of shoppers, gripping fistfuls of cloth bags, into the elevator.
Colourful images wrap the elevator space, setting the mood before the doors even open to the Peterborough Square Mall.
Caleb Pedosiuk and Sarah May, owners of a local marketing company called 79 Dev, completed all the branding work in the mall.
“No one had ever done an elevator wrap at the mall before,” Pedosiuk says.
“The images used in the wrap remind people to look forward to the market all week,” May adds.
People stream into the new space, relaxed, smiling, with children running around, playing and having fun. Large-scale photographs depicting food and family draw patrons in to the colourful, music-filled space.
Michael Ketemer plays the hammered dulcimer as people stroll past. Money is dropped at his feet, a small token of gratitude and a nod to efforts each market member brings to the space to create a shopping experience that feeds the whole person.
The 20,000-square-foot space is brightly painted with eight different colours, with paint generously donated by Behr and Home Depot. The effect is joyfully mood-altering.
Everywhere you look — from the walls to the brightly coloured apples, carrots, and greens — the colours all work together to deliver a burst of energy, making it easy to forget that this is an underground space in a downtown mall.
Sherry Patterson is having a busy Saturday. The owner of Chick-A-Biddy Acres is selling fresh produce and chatting with shoppers at a steady pace.
“It’s a magical feeling,” she says, looking around the market. “It’s an incredible amount of work that people have done to get this ready and it is lovely to be warm — wearing my t-shirt.”
Warmth was an important piece when looking for a winter location for the Peterborough Regional Farmers’ Market. While their outdoor space at the Citi Centre Courtyard allowed for new expansion and growth, cold and damp winters made it necessary to find a suitable indoor option from November through April.
Gary Fenton also appreciates the warmth of the new space. The owner of G. Fenton Farms doesn’t need the Peterborough Regional Farmers’ Market hoodie that be bought a few weeks ago. The sweatshirt is tossed on a chair and he’s in shirtsleeves, thankful for the warm, bright space.
Fenton sells chickens, rotisserie roasted, frozen and fresh. They’re all raised outside where they eat grass and bugs — which makes the birds taste great, Fenton says.
“The flavour is better and these birds are healthy,” Fenton explains. “We use zero antibiotics.”
Fenton’s chickens are popular at the market and patrons keep checking in at his stall to see when the rotisserie birds will be ready. His food trailer is parked in the loading bay of Peterborough Square and he pops in and out to check the progress as shoppers gather.
Patrons don’t mind waiting for the chickens though. There’s so much to do and see while they wait. There’s the kids’ zone tucked neatly into a corner, offering space for active play while parents shop or lounge on burlap covered hay bales, sipping fair trade coffee.
There are food booths, a community dining area, and artisans, and everyone is sharing laughter and conversation — a far cry from a typical Saturday grocery store experience.
Josh Blank is a Peterborough Regional Farmers Network (PRFN) board member and he’s making introductions, sharing hugs and handshakes, and pointing out who has been featured in what photograph. He points out the family that holds the eggs in one photo: farmers and now models.
Blank has once again brought the vision of the PRFN board to life and the first indoor market day is going well, thanks to the tremendous efforts that have been made over the past months.
“We’ve got this space for six months and it’s permanent,” he enthuses. “So we can run events and classes and the vendors get to leave their stuff here, which means more permanent displays. This is where the Peterborough farmers’ market began and now, with these partners, we have fresh local food again in downtown Peterborough.”
Blank also notes that the space was professionally designed for fun and — judging from the laughter, running kids, and smiling shoppers — the plan has worked.
The PRFN’s vision for the Peterborough Regional Farmers’ Market was to promote a festive and vibrant community experience by inviting local food vendors and artisans into the market, showcasing the value-added production of local food and local crafts within the region. That vision has been nurtured over the past months and now it grows again, thanks to the new partnership with the owners of Peterborough Square.
And with season-extending greenhouses, a root cellar, a stone house, and the successful launch of the winter market, Sherry Patterson from Chick-A-Biddy Acres is looking forward to busy Saturdays through the winter season.
“This market and access to this food will certainly keep everyone happy, healthy, and cooking,” she says.
The Peterborough Regional Farmers’ Market runs at its winter location in Peterborough Square at 340 George Street North in downtown Peterborough from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday from November to April. The market is located in the lower south level by Prince Gardens.
You can easily access the market from the mall’s underground parking; simply take the Galaxy Cinema elevator or stairs and exit at the first level into the mall. You can also enter from lower Charlotte Street by Princess Gardens, or at the food court; take the escalator downstairs and head to the south end of the lower mall. The farmers’ market will be well marked from all of the mall entrances.
For more information, visit www.ptboregionalfarmersmarket.org.