The Hay River Commons’ winter market has wrapped up its first year and members of the collective hope it can become a permanent feature of the community.
With close to 50 vendors taking part in the market, which stretched from October to March, the Sunday afternoon event featured arts and crafts, produce, music, baked goods and fresh food.
The Hay River Commons is made up of members looking to promote local food, products and arts. It was created last year by Andrew Cassidy, François Lamy, Micayla Gammon, Jackie Milne and Franziska Ulbricht, whose Real Food Cafe was a big hit with market-goers.
Milne said it’s been both surprising and exciting to see so much variety at the market.
“In a small community like this, it’s nice to see so much diversity,” she said. “It’s not just about food or crafts, there’s a social aspect to it as well.”
This summer, some area farmers are planning on expanding their range of produce, which means more food should be available at the Fisherman’s Wharf outdoor market.
Milne said more food means more of it will be available during next year’s winter market.
“Now that we have this winter market, anyone producing food this summer can think ahead and set aside some food,” she said.
Many foods can be canned, dried and frozen in anticipation of the winter market.
Milne said it’s part of the collective’s vision to become a catalyst and encourage even more residents to produce their own food.
The market’s success this winter even inspired people in Yellowknife to start their own collective.
The Real Food Cafe was another of the market’s strengths. Operated by Hay River artist Franziska Ulbricht, the cafe offered a variety of fresh food using vegetables that had been grown the summer before.
“Being a person who likes the challenges in trying to run my own little diverse business, this winter market has been an ideal venue for me,” said Ulbricht. “I enjoy doing a lot of different things, but my focus is on local resources and how to use them creatively, making just enough of a living, and put my energy into the things I believe in.”
She noted she wanted to rely on locally-produced vegetables as much as possible and to have everything in place before the winter started. “So I had bought a bunch of things from Paradise Garden, that I either froze or stored, and the rest I bought weekly straight from Jackie Milne’s cold storage. She’s supplied me with cabbage, beets, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, leeks, turnips, celery and fresh kale from her greenhouse throughout the whole season.”
— Myles Dolphin