St. Thomas couple fills void by running Friday night farmers' market this summer
ST. THOMAS, ONT. -- At Wildflowers Farm near St. Thomas, Ont. Jane and Chuck Magri were crushed to learn the local Horton Farmers' Market would not be operating this year.
"Just like every other vendor that is part of this market, we were devastated," says Jane Magri, who has been selling their homemade tea and honey at the market for a decade.
This week St. Thomas city council decided not to proceed with the 142-year-old market due to the pandemic.
Forty-eight hours later, with approval from the Southwestern Public Health, the Magri's decided to create one themselves
"We have nine acres of space here and have already accounted for six feet distancing," says Magri.
"We will have some vendors in the field space, then in the car parking lot and then back into the barn."
Having run events with hundreds of people on their farm on Fruit Ridge Line, they are equipped to handle the volume. It will be a purely food market, without any other vendors allowed.
"It was really about ticking all the boxes, and being diligent about keeping everyone safe," says Magri.
In less than a day, the feedback and response to their announcement on Facebook has been overwhelming.
Customers and vendors have shown interest in taking part, including 'Our Fields Farm' from Aylmer.
"It's given us back somewhere we can sell our preserves" says Roger Thiessen, who grows fruit and vegetables on 3/4 of an acre in Malahide Township.
"We do small batch preserving in our kitchen and we can only sell that at a farmers market, so that revenue stream would be out for us."
Unsure about whether council will change its mind and allow the market, the Magri's waited to reveal the idea Friday.
They will have sanitizing measures in place and volunteers to direct traffic flow. Unlike the Horton Farmer's Market, they will host vendors on Friday nights.
"We aren't trying to compete with them," says Magri.
"We love the market and respect that hub for the community. We've always loved Friday events for people going to Port Stanley. We plan on having food trucks so you can not only go to the market, but have dinner for the evening."
Thiessen is not only excited about selling his goods, but being part of something special.
"Giving people a chance to hit up a food truck, get groceries for the evening, and grab drinks to go, that's going to be a cool vibe," says Thiessen.
There are rumors that city council will be meeting in the near future to re-assess the downtown market closing. If they do decide to bow to public pressure, and re-open, that won't change the Magri's plans.
"If the market does open on Saturdays, we can have two," says Magri.