Categorized | Features

Macleod Farmer’s Market popular sport for vendors

farmer's market fresh produce

Customers check out the fresh produce and baking at one of the stalls Thursday at the first Fort Macleod Farmer's Market of the season.

helen manzara selling organic wines

Helen Manzara tells a customer about the organic wine she is selling Thursday at the Fort Macleod Farmer's Market.

Fort Macleod’s Farmer’s Market bustles with activity each Thursday throughout the summer, as people flock to the curling rink to shop for fresh produce, baking and other goods.
Transactions complete, people then take some time to visit with friends and neighbours in the relaxed atmosphere of the informal market place.
The popularity of the Farmer’s Market makes it a popular destination not only for local residents, but the vendors as well.
“For us, it’s the only way we can get our product out,” said Helen Manzara, who was selling organic wine on Thursday.
At the first Fort Macleod market of the season, people such as Manzara were selling wine, fresh produce, sausage, jewellery, hand-made clothes and other goods.
The products being sold are for the most part home-made or home-grown, but some distributors are allowed to rent a booth.
There are Farmer’s Markets in communities across Alberta and while the idea is the same, no two are exactly alike.
“You definitely get a different atmosphere at each market,” Manzara said. “Each market is unique.”
Manzara got into selling for Birds and Bees Organic Winery and Meadery for a simple reason.
“I like the wine,” she said with a laugh.
Many vendors start selling products for the same reason — they were customers first, loved the product and decided to share that passion with others.
Manzara spent Thursday afternoon at the curling club visiting with the people who dropped by her table.
She told them about Birds and Bees, which is based at Brousseau, Alta., and discussed the merits of the wines, which have sassy names such as Kinky Cranberry, Little Flirt and Big Tease Raspberry.
For a small winery such as Birds and Bees, it is important to get their products in front of the public in a setting such as the Farmer’s Market.
People see the wines and have a chance to talk about them with someone like Manzara who has expertise.
Peter Blokpoel of Meadow Creek Sausage and Meat Ltd. in Claresholm was at the Fort Macleod market on Thursday.
Blokpoel said Farmer’s Markets allow him the opportunity to sell directly to people unfamiliar with his products.
Once Blokpoel gives his sales pitch, discussing the intricacies of his Polish, smoked barbecue and other sausages he has built a rapport that — combined with the taste of the product — results in repeat customers.
“It’s very important,” Blokpoel said of selling his products at the Farmer’s Market.
A sale at the Farmer’s Market leads to customers asking for Meadow Creek sausage in supermarkets, which boosts Blokpoel’s sales.
Since starting Meadow Creek two years ago, Blokpoel has sold his products with great success at Farmer’s Markets in Fort Macleod, Claresholm, Nanton and Millarville.
“We just love to be here,” Blokpoel said. “I love to go to Fort Macleod. It’s interesting talking to the people.”
Manzara enjoys the collegial atmosphere at the Fort Macleod Farmer’s Market.
When things are slow at their booths, the vendors wander off to visit with the other people selling their goods.
“Toward the end of the market, when most of the customers are gone, we (vendors) start having fun with each other,” Manzara said.
Marketing products at the Fort Macleod Farmer’s Market also pays off in terms of sales.
“I did this all last year and my bosses sent me back this year,” Helen Manzara said. “This is a good market. It’s worth it to find out whether is a market for your product.”
Fort Macleod Farmer’s Market runs from 3-6 p.m. Thursdays at the curling rink until mid-September. To book a booth call Marion Van Sluys at 403-553-2610.