Bringing Locals Together

Year-round market opens in Montague

With Montague celebrating its 100th birthday this year, it seems a fitting time to try something the town has seen before, but with a targeted concept. On June 11, Caroline Farrell, supported by her husband, Paul, launched a new farmers’ market.

Currently located in the rink of the local curling club **, the market is open Sundays from 10am to 2pm.
On its first day only a few of the 14 registered vendors were present. Many of the farmers aiming to sell their fresh produce at the venue had to head out to the fields on this hot day in June to make up for the rainy days of the past weeks.

But this, along with the numerous hurdles Farrell had to overcome before opening day, hasn’t stopped her. “The challenge is the fun part,” she tells me. You truly believe that when her contagious laugh followed by a warm welcome with a slight Irish accent greets you as you enter the market. Inside, there’s room for many vendors. “A typical Irish or English market would have 50 to 60 stalls,” Farrell said. And that’s certainly the long-term goal she’s striving for.

Photo Credit: Jessica L. Fritz

The couple immigrated to Canada in 2010, and lived in Saskatchewan before moving to PEI in 2016. “We need green and hills and trees, coming from Ireland,” Farrell said. And PEI has those in abundance. Today, the Farrells grow veggies and raise free-range chicken and pigs on 48 acres of their woodlot farm nearby.

The market is meant to be a place where local farmers can sell their produce and the community can satisfy their desire for fresh produce grown close to home. Ideally, providing an alternative to both buyers and sellers who might otherwise have to travel to Charlottetown.

While food is the focus, local artisan and crafters are also featured and on opening day the mix of vendors is well-balanced. On the food side there’s Lucky Bee Homestead, purveyors of honey, jams, mustards, bread, and savoury sauerkraut; young Patrick Martens is selling lettuce, seedlings, and rhubarb from his garden; and Farrell, for the moment, is selling fresh eggs. Dessert candles from Perry PEI Handcrafted offer an aromatic transition from food to crafts; Hopefull Creations’ crocheted stuffed animals are so cute I wish I had kids to have a reason to buy them; and Susan Martin’s crocheted dolls and heat pads show skill and design.

Photo Credit: Jessica L. Fritz

You might think they would all compete with each other, but that’s not the case. “It’s about bringing the community together to work as a team and getting the word out,” Farrell said.

A lot of good things start small and require endurance. The planning doesn’t stop here—more vendors will join in the weeks and months to come and the market’s permanent location will be at the new brewery, Bogside Brewing, run by David McGuire and slated to open in the fall. As for the Farrells, their plan is to offer a menu featuring their home-grown ingredients, including sandwiches, breakfast, and lunch. The opening of the market marks the first step in an exciting journey for the vendors and Montague’s market-goers.

** Editor’s note: The location of the market has changed since this article went to print. The new location of the market is the old Sears store in the Down East Mall in Montague.

About Jessica Fritz

Jessica is “from away” in the truest sense of its meaning: her roots are in Germany. She immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 2010 and only recently moved to PEI. As a passionate home cook Jessica likes to explore different types of cuisines including her native one. “Thinking globally, buying locally” is her foodie mantra and growing her own veggies will be her next big adventure. Putting words on paper has always been a way to express herself. Hence, writing for Salty combines her love for food and the written word while at the same time discovering PEI’s thriving culinary landscape.

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