The Sackville Farmers Market is asking for the town’s help in finding a permanent home somewhere downtown.
“The market needs about 7,000 square feet of indoor space,” said Kent Coates, chair of the market’s board of directors during a presentation to town council on Monday.
“The market has a lot to offer the town and the town has a lot to offer the market,” he said, adding that Sackville could draw people from the crowded farmers markets in Moncton and Dieppe.
“People take a day trip on Saturday to come to Sackville, they do some shopping, they buy some things at the hardware store, the restaurants. I really feel Sackville could be a destination place on Saturday and I think that the market could play a really big role in that,” Coates told council.
He was joined by board member Peter Hess and market manager Michael Freeman as they pitched the idea of a new, town-owned building that would be managed by the Farmers Market and shared during the week with other groups such as Live Bait Theatre and Perpetual Motion Dance Studio.
Coates said that ideally, the new building would have an adjoining, roofed outdoor space for use during the summer.
He added that although the present Saturday market has lots of space in Bill Johnstone park during the summers, the winter market in the Sackville Commons is pretty small.
“Through our…customer surveys and our vendor surveys, we’ve really determined that Sackville needs an all-year market and to do that, we feel that a permanent location that provided some indoor space would be a huge asset to the town and to the market,” Coates said.
Market manager Michael Freeman showed a slide listing several sources of potential funding including the market itself, a grant from MASU, the Mt. A. students’ union, the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, the Regional Development Commission, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and Sackville’s Rotary Club.
He said money could also be raised by selling shares in a Community Development Corporation that would generate tax credits for investors.
Board member Peter Hess told council that having to move around from place to place limits the market’s ability to grow.
“Looking at it from a business perspective, our biggest threat is not having a permanent location,” he said.
The three market spokesmen said they haven’t determined where a new downtown Farmers Market building could be located, but mentioned a number of possibilities including land around the new Lorne Street water retention pond, the tennis courts adjoining Bill Johnstone park, the Irving Oil property on Main Street and the Quonset hut area near the Painted Pony restaurant.
Market buildings in other small towns
“The Farmers Market is an obvious asset for the town and the town in the past has supported the Farmers Market in many different ways,” said Councillor Bill Evans.
He added that it would be crucial to work out a sharing arrangement with other groups to make the project work.
“I would love to find a way that we could legitimately support this because this is good for the town, but we have to be responsible,” Evans said, adding, “I don’t want to use that term ‘pipe-dream’ because I want this to be realized, but we have to be careful.”
“I just want to make it very clear that the market as a whole is not set on any particular location or idea,” Board Chair Kent Coates said in closing. “We’re very much open to developing this together. I think it’s necessary to come to this with an open mind and figure out what’s best suited for everyone’s needs.”