Organizers of this year's Kanata Farmers' Market are hopeful that the 'shop local' sentiment, being urged during the pandemic, will help their upcoming season be a success.
In the midst of pandemic uncertainty in 2020, stringent COVID-19 measures delayed the opening of the Kanata Farmers' Market, which left organizers wondering what the future might hold for the rest of the season, let alone the following season. They were uncertain if customers would continue to shop local.
“I think this year is going to be a little bit easier -- we're going to know what we're up against,” said Ann Marie Rochon, manager of the Kanata Farmers' Market. “We know the crowd size and making sure that people are, you know, keeping their distance and people kind of know now what to expect.”
Rochon, who also manages the day-to-day operations at Rochon Gardens, says, despite all the COVID-19 regulations over the past year, it has helped ease her business into the preparation for the spring season.
“Markets are really important to our bottom line; we really need to place an outlet to sell the product that we grow. And without markets, it's really tough to do that.”
Though there will be a focus on keeping crowds physically-distanced at the market, the variety of local products and new vendors expected this year are also keeping Rochon hopeful that it will attract more customers.
Debbie Schinzel, owner and creator of Pure Heart Essentials, says that she's excited to return to the market this season. She always looks forward to connecting with the community of Kanata, which is what keeps her coming back year after year.
“I think since the pandemic started, it's [given] people more time to shop local and I find people are now having the time to look for local businesses within their community," expressed Schinzel.
The warmer weather is another reason organizers anticipate a bigger turnout.
Rochon encourages people to not only support local businesses but to also engage with small business owners too, even it means being six feet apart and masked up.
“Talk to your farmer; get to know where your food is coming from and talk to the person who grew your food,” said Rochon. “How often do you get to talk to the person who grew that tomato that you're eating or that cheese that you're tasting?”
The Kanata Farmers’ Market is scheduled to start this May.