Our local produce stand was started in 2007 and just keeps getting better and better every year! Each Wednesday, from mid-June to mid-October (weather permitting), you will see a small band of volunteers offering farm fresh produce for sale in front of the BPHA Recreation Centre at 293 Shakespeare Drive. The usual hours are noon to 6:00pm.
Steve Singer, Dolores Penner and Jan Phillips, all local BPHA residents who served on its Board of Directors together, first envisioned a stand to:
- Promote local agriculture
- Provide an opportunity for neighbours to buy fresh, nutritious produce, and
- Create a place to congregate on Wednesday afternoons all summer and into the fall
Kind of a throwback to the idea of market day in the village square that was so common in many small towns in years gone by.
The stand sources all its products from within a 30km radius including the Elmira Produce Auction Cooperative run by the Mennonite community along with other local farms. While the produce is not organic, it is very fresh and local, with most items usually picked no more than 24 hours prior to market opening.
From its inception, we have encouraged and benefited from the involvement of our neighbourhood children, who routinely help set up the produce stand in the morning. They also get to practice their mental math skills; sample tasty local produce; and learn the basics of running a small business! Our collective neighbourhood children have been invaluable to the success of the market and many have used their experience as a springboard to other jobs. Of course, in addition to children, we have many adults in our community who help make our stand what it is each season. It's truly a community effort.
Over the years our market has branched out into other items including bread, eggs, honey and lemonade concentrate. The stand has also partnered with community craft fairs, food talks, knife sharpening and more. Discovering a neighbourhood with a passion for bread making was a dream come true and now Black Island Bakery supplies a variety of sourdough loaves to our market: fresh baked every Wednesday morning especially for us!
The leftover produce each week is taken to the Food Bank and St. John's Kitchen who really appreciate our fresh fruits and vegetables.
At the end of each season, the money raised at the stand is donated on behalf of our community to our local public schools (Keatsway and Centennial), BPHA community projects, and a variety of charities. It is our strongest hope that our market will remain an integral part of our community fabric for many years to come.