By Ryan Horne
The Wednesday Guelph Farmers’ Market is sticking around for a little while longer.
The eight-week pilot project that was supposed to end last week has been extended to Oct. 31 because of the somewhat surprising success and interest from vendors and customers alike.
“It’s been going extremely well,” said supervisor of parking facilities and the Guelph Farmers’ Market, Anna Marie O’Connell.
The Wednesday Farmers’ Market was an initiative that started on June 20 to give customers and vendors a second opportunity during the week to sell and shop for local produce. The Wednesday market runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., while the Saturday market runs year-round from 7 a.m. to noon.
Dana Thatcher, part owner of Thatcher Farms – the only meat vendor on Wednesdays – said she was unsure of the Wednesday market at first but is thrilled with how it has turned out.
“It’s been improving every week,” she said. “I’m quite proud of the vendors who keep on coming out.” She added that “it helps to keep dollars in the market.”
Thatcher Farms sells beef, pork, lamb, meat pies and honey at the market. Their sales are split halfway between the two Guelph markets and their Country Store located on their farm in Rockwood.
“The community fully supports us; it (the market) has helped us get our start for sure,” said Thatcher. Guelph tried a Wednesday Farmers’ Market about 12 years ago, but it failed due to lack of interest, Thatcher said.
O’Connell said there is an average of 800 people who show up at the mid-week market, 944 on the highest day. She has seen customers making the trip to the Guelph Farmers’ Market from as far away as Burlington.
She said there are around 45 vendors that come out on Wednesday, which is half of the amount they see on Saturday. The Wednesday market has been beneficial to some vendors who are on the waiting list for an opening on the weekend.
“There’s no room on Saturday, so they come out on Wednesday instead,” said O’Connell.
About 3,000 to 4,000 customers attend the Saturday morning market, said Thatcher.
After surveying and asking for feedback from the customers and vendors, it was an easy decision to extend the market until the end of October.
O’Connell said even with the lack of rain this summer, everything besides corn has been growing and selling well.
Vendor Jason Ruetz gets his food from his brother-in-law’s farm, the Voisions Family Farm, and said he hopes it will continue next year.
“It’s getting better every week since it started,” said Ruetz, who has been seeing over 100 customers visit his stand every Wednesday afternoon.
Alex Kurochkin sells his own homemade honey at the market, along with other produce, and said the market works much better for him on Wednesdays.
“We want the full year,” he said.
O’Connell said they will have to take a look at the market at the end of October to see if it is feasible to bring back next year.