Farmers’ Market connects Acadia and community

Farmers' Market at Acadia

People who want to buy local now have a new place to call their own. The Wolfville Farmers’ Market had its official opening June 29 and if the number of smiling, happy people is any indication, it has certainly struck a chord in the community.

Since May, over 60 vendors from up and down the Annapolis Valley have gathered every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning to sell goods at Acadia University’s DeWolfe Building, located at 24 Elm Avenue..

The former agricultural warehouse on Acadia’s campus was built nearly100 years ago for R.W. DeWolfe Ltd. as an apple packing and storage facility. After acquiring the building, Acadia used it for storage until 2009 when the university and the Wolfville Farmers’ Market Cooperative finalized the terms of 20-year lease of the building for $1 per year. Renovations began in October 2010.

“We’re so happy to share this building with the community through such a well-established attraction as the Wolfville Farmers’ Market,” says Ray Ivany, Acadia’s president and vice-chancellor. “It’s important that it be on Acadia’s campus as a symbol of our historic connection to our community, which is  rich in agriculture, food, and culture.”

The market originally opened in 1992 as an outdoor, summer-only event. In 2006, vendors moved to the Acadia Students’ Union Building during winter months to maintain a year-round presence.

“We’ve been actively searching for a permanent home for years,” says Kelly Marie Redcliffe, market manager. “Although we knew we couldn’t buy a place to house the market, our strong partnership with Acadia University has enabled us to find a building that works well for the entire community.”

“After many meetings between the town and the university, we finally came to a verdict that the back part of the DeWolfe Building would be ample space for proper market use,” says Angela Patterson, president of the market’s board of directors. “Since the decision to use this piece of property, we’ve experienced nothing but cooperation and collaboration from the university.  It has been one of the most pleasant working relationships I’ve been involved in.”

Hands-on learning

The relationship between the university and the market goes beyond the use of Acadia property. In 2010, Acadia’s Nutrition and Dietetics faculty collaborated with market staff to create a project that offers students hands-on learning. The on-site, taste-testing project helps students learn about the different local foods found at the market as they work with vendors to create nutritious ways to prepare the produce.

“This project exposes students to discussions about nutritious local foods and sustainability,” says Barb Anderson, Acadia’s director of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Understanding the importance of local foods is crucial at a large societal level and a local economic level.”

Adds Anderson, “it’s more than an educational opportunity. This is our chance to give back to the community.”

Josh Boudreau is a fourth-year nutrition student who values the market. “While the market enables vendors to be sustainable, it also serves as a place for visitors to develop relationships with the vendors,” he says. “It’s a great social setting and it provides us with an opportunity to discover food that is available in the Annapolis Valley. Before I went to Acadia, neither nutrition nor buying local were things that I really thought about. Now it’s something that’s frequently on my mind.

“By giving to the community, supporting local vendors, we will see positive results,” he says. “It’s important that students do their part.”

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Learn More:
Wolfville Farmers’ Market    Acadia's Nutrition and Dietetics

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