1993: Our story begins when Sean Day (Development Officer for the town of Antigonish) moved to Antigonish in 93′ and was surprised to discover there was no farmers’ market. The following year Sean & Chei McKeough (from Antigonish Main St. Program) got together a few tables and chairs in Chisholm Park.
The original four vendors were Beverly MacLean, Anne Purcell, Annie MacPherson, & Barb Taylor.
Beverly and Anne were the “The Original Knitters,” with Beverly still selling at the Farmer’s Market in the Fall.
Annie, who retired from selling at the Market, sold jams & baked goods.
Barb & Sid Taylor, Glenhill Berry Farm, to this day, sell vegetables and blueberries from their farm along with jams and jellies.
1994: The Antigonish Main Street Program was cancelled, and the local ARDA stepped in and took over.
1995: According to Sid Taylor, the Market moved indoors, selling in the hallway of the Arena.
1996: The Farmer’s Market was moved to the Craft barn, with only a handful of vendors, but it was growing.
Nancy MacLean, Shenanigans, started at the Craft Barn
1997: Margaret Cornect of Cornect Family Farm started at the Craft Barn which at the time, only had dirt floors.
The Market initially opened in late June. There was no Market Manager; it was a team effort, and everyone pitched in and did what needed to be done.
The local ARDA, specifically Veronica Gilles, was always an enormous help with paperwork, especially with getting the Market incorporated in 97’.
1997 – 1999: After a couple of years, 4-H was looking to put a cement floor in their barn.
It was agreed that if the Farmer’s Market would help, the Market could use the barn every Saturday.
The Farmer’s Market contributed $5,000 towards the floor and continued to give a yearly donation for the continued use of the barn.
Over the next few years, Nancy MacLean & Margaret Cornect ran the Market voluntarily, with Jim Connors helping once Fran and Jim started to sell baked goods at the Market – which they still do during the Christmas season.
In the 90s, a Carpenter from the Havre Boucher area designed and crafted a sign which is to this day known as our Market logo. Each component of the sign was individually hand-made. This sign still hangs inside the new barn, a true piece of art and well worth taking a closer view.
Margaret recalls one of the first few pancake breakfasts – which still take place to this day! Tina Landry would make pancake mix the nights before, along with the help of many other volunteers that make The Farmer’s Market possible.
Still in the early stages, when Jim was President, he was the volunteer manager, setting up tables and collecting fees as the ARDA continued to handle bookkeeping for years to come.
Eventually, the Market got too large for three volunteers to manage. We began hiring summer students, from STFX, through Government programs.
Not long after, a full-time manager was hired.
All the while, our local ARDA and the Department of Agriculture were still helping us. Bronwynn MacKinnon and Kevin Bekkers helped get our By-Laws and Vendor and Board Policy in place. Over the last 20 years, our Rules and Regulations have changed as the face of the Market changed, but one thing has never changed – a vendor must produce what they sell!
2005: In 2005, we celebrated our 10th anniversary with a free BBQ! With much help, we decorated a float. Terry Boyle had lent us his flatbed from the farm to decorate. With Annie MacPherson as Queen of the Market on the float, lots of hard work, and even more fun, we took home first place!
Where We are Today…
With the continuous support and help of our community, we successfully raised over our goal of $700,000 for the construction of a new barn, solely for the farmers’ market.
Construction began in December of 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic began.
In May of 2020, due to provincial covid restrictions, the market was held entirely online.
Customers ordered online and picked them up at the market where volunteers placed orders in their trunks outside.
At this point in time, the new barn was not completely finished but the online ordering was a great success.
As restrictions began to lift, the market started up again in July 2020 where it was held outside due to the restrictions still in place.
As restrictions began lifting again and the building was finished, the market began moving inside in August 2020.
The new building is now equipped with a commercial kitchen and multi-purpose room which is available for rent.
The building is also equipped with a full roof of solar panels that take care of most of the electricity in our efforts to cut down greenhouse gas emissions from non-renewable energy sources.
Today, we hold an average of 50+ vendors weekly, having grown from the original handful in 96’; still selling fresh and affordable in-season produce.
There is locally produced maple syrup, honey, vodka and lots of baked goodies to suit your fancy – from regular homemade goods to German baking (made by a real German baker!)
The number of foods being cooked on site has increased greatly over the years also. Whether you buy to eat on site or take home to enjoy, you can choose from sausages, burritos, and even Indian food.
No market would be complete without your local crafters. From woolen blankets to hand-made bags, wooden cutting boards, photography, paintings, jewelry and hand-crocheted items for the kids ….there are lots to choose from if you are looking for that special one-of-a-kind gift.