Jean-Talon Market pilot project helps next generation of farmers get a foot in the door

·2 min read
The turnkey market stall, which can be rented by the day, is ready to welcome young entrepreneurs in the agriculture industry. (Vivien Gaumand - image credit)
The turnkey market stall, which can be rented by the day, is ready to welcome young entrepreneurs in the agriculture industry. (Vivien Gaumand - image credit)

Starting this summer, up and coming farmers will be able to rent one of three turnkey stalls at Jean-Talon Market.

Nicolas Fabien-Ouellet, general director of Montreal's Public Markets, told CBC's Daybreak that the measure aims to encourage young businesses to become part of the offering.

"It was really a need of the next generation of farmers and food businesses that was communicated to us," said Fabien-Ouellet. "When we were recruiting new businesses they told us, 'We first want to test, maybe one day [at a time].'"

Fabien-Ouellet said entrepreneurs starting out are facing many challenges, and the goal is to help make the market more accessible for them.

"By providing the turnkey stall already installed for them, it's really easier for them to come and rent for one day," he said.

The stalls cost $70 for the day and are reserved for companies selling produce.

Fabien-Ouellet said doing a one-day pop-up at the market is "one way to get your product known" and that already "weekends are filling up quickly."

Right now the project is only focused on Jean-Talon market, but if it proves successful, he would like to expand to Atwater and Maisonneuve markets.

Tristan Zeman, co-founder of an indoor vertical farm in Montreal called Interius, told CBC that his company has booked one of the stalls every Saturday through the summer.

Tristan Zeman, left, and co-founder Jonnie Lawson are the duo behind vertical farming business Interius.
Tristan Zeman, left, and co-founder Jonnie Lawson are the duo behind vertical farming business Interius.(Interius Farms/Facebook)

Zeman said on the first Saturday they set up their stall, they sold out of everything.

"Honestly we wish we had a little more and we ended up having a lot of great conversations with people who said they'd come back," he said.

Interius grows and sells lettuce, kale and culinary herbs without the use of pesticides.

"Anything leafy - we can grow it," said Zeman.

Even more than generating a revenue, he said being in a high-traffic part of the market sparked many conversations with shoppers about their business model.

"So we're using a novel vertical farming system that uses less energy, less space and less water to produce the same amount of produce."

"People were really excited that we're growing year-round actually on the island of Montreal. We're located in Ville Saint-Laurent and people were thrilled about that," said Zeman.

Food businesses can book a turnkey stall by contacting location@marchespublics-mtl.com