Not that I planned it or anything but I just happened to move to a city with a fantastic farmer’s market culture. It’s been two weeks since I moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia and I’ve visited the Market building almost everyday. Mainly because it is less than five minutes from where I’m interning at Pier 21. I can stop by for an organic coffee in the morning and a crispy, locally grown apple in the afternoon. However, most people flock there on Saturdays which is truly the only busy day. That is when you’ll find the large hall full of farmers, bakers, “Ethnic” chefs who sell everything from samosas to English pasties to Antiguan chicken, crowds of families, students, and hoards of cruise ship tourists from September through October. The Seaport Market, which is not to be confused with the South Street Seaport in New York City, is the oldest running farmer’s market in North America. Over the years the market has not surprisingly changed buildings a couple of times. It moved to its present location in 2010. The idea was that the market would stay open seven days a week throughout the entire year and to accommodate these extended hours it was built with sustainably in mind. However, if it weren’t for the cruise ships visitors who visit the craft stalls during the week the place would probably be dead Sunday through Friday. I will be curious to see just how dead it gets in the coming months. I’ve heard from a few people around town that they preferred the market when it was held in the historic brewery building a few blocks away. I myself have a vague memory of visiting the place almost ten years ago when I was making a trip across Canada by greyhound. My girlfriend who was an art student at NASCAD at the time took me there for a gooey and delightfully sugary cinnamon bun.
Yet, somehow times have changed. Yes, there is still baking, but now a lot of it is vegan and or gluten free. It’s made with ancient grains, unrefined sugars, and organic fair trade ingredients. Could we say that this new eco friendly buildingsomehow mirrors our current society. That is to say that as much as we love the charm and quaintness of historic buildings we demand or at least the “yuppitty” crowd, who can afford to shop at the Halifax Market every week, demands these things. It’s got to be local, it’s got to be sustainable, organic, and especially speciality! Is this just a craze, or is this the future of farmers’ markets? More importantly is it fair? I think I’ll have to spend a few more Saturdays hanging around the market to see just how accessible this place is to all Haligonians, which by all means sounds like a good plan to me!