The rebirth of the Lion’s Head Farmers’ Market began with a very successful trial run one June Saturday six years ago that I hoped would become a regular summer-long event at the pavilion on the beach.
Happily there were no big hurdles in getting municipal approval for the location, but we needed county health unit okay to operate at all. And a 16-year-old ensuring the safety of food sold at the market? The local health inspector understandably had some concerns about that. But after renting a hand-washing station and ensuring all foods were prepared in an inspected kitchen, we were given the green light.
With support from BPEG’s Tina Chladny, teachers Betsy Burrows and Birch Behmann and municipal clerk Mary Lynn Standen, I was able to navigate the rather vague and tricky regulations around farmers’ markets, and on Aug. 9, 2008, at the scenic beach location, our market began its second incarnation.
The idea to revive the market was originally sparked when I and classmates Brittany Tackaberry, Jenelle Hellyer and Kate Sarnovsky were tasked by our teachers Betsy and Birch with doing some sort of community action project for our environmental class. The four of us decided that we wanted to focus on promoting local food, particularly its production and distribution. So we brainstormed ideas and came up with a community garden at the Golden Dawn Apartments for the production end and a farmers’ market for distribution. The community garden proved to be already large and ambitious enough for the scope of our assignment, yet I was still very interested in doing the farmers’ market, which would affect change at the larger, community level. That semester, as it turned out, I was taking a world issues class with Betsy and, once again, we were assigned the task of doing some type of community action. I had chosen to focus on globalization/localization for my final paper and the market fit in quite nicely as my community action project. Of course, it became more involved than I originally expected, and pretty quickly it took on a life of its own.
In the first season vendors were few – Mark and Anotinette Rauket, Graham and Tina of Harvest Moon Bakery, Jim and Sally from Orchard Knoll, Brittany Tackaberry, Nancy Strang, Jennifer Roberts, Patrick Lima, and my parents, Gerry and Cecile Myles. But they were dedicated and their products were snapped up. BPEG not only contributed financially to help get the market running, but its members were among the most supportive customers in the market’s early years.
Originally, we did not have live music, but we soon realized how much it would add to the atmosphere and encourage people to linger. So I contacted local musician and artist Gerry Goldie, and pretty soon he had a growing band of players making music all morning long, every Saturday. They have always raised money for an important cause – first the cancer society, now the daycare centre – a great community‑spirited group!
My mom, Cecile, has taken over the leadership, supported by a core group of vendors. Promoting the production and consumption of local food remains our main goal and our hope is to continue to expand the selection of local food and make it more accessible to the community.
Now in its seventh season and with an overflowing parking lot of vendors and visitors, the Lion’s Head Farmers’ Market has become a permanent fixture in the community. So wander down, catch up with friends and see what your neighbours are growing and making. It runs until Thanksgiving.
This article was a collaboration between Megan Myles and Donna Dilschneider, and the third article in a series of articles highlighting the accomplishments of the Bruce Peninsula Environment Group, as the group celebrates its 25th anniversary year. Check out the last issue of the Bruce Peninsula Press to learn all about the first Lion’s Head farmers’ market that operated from 1992 – 1999 at the Lion’s Head Arena.