Powassan Farmers’ Market reflects on roots as it launches new season

·3 min read

The Powassan Farmers' Market is back for another season.

This is the 34th year for the seasonal event.

And to mark the return to normalcy after coping with COVID the last two years, the farmers' market board, in addition to its bell ringing, added a ribbon-cutting to welcome back the vendors and public.

Cutting the ribbon was Marion French, one of the founding members of the Powassan Farmers' Market.

French told The Nugget that her late husband Robert French was part of the steering committee that helped launch the farmers' market locally in 1988. French said prior to that time there were no farmers' markets in the area.

“Robert and the group thought it was very important to educate people to know where their food comes from and how it's grown,” said French. “The reception that first year was amazing. I think people also came out because the farmers' market was new to the area.”

The Powassan Farmers' Market first started out at the Powassan Fairgrounds then relocated to behind the medical centre to where it is now on Main Street next to The Beer Store.

French recalls in the beginning there weren't too many vendors because the concept locally was still new.

But it grew with time.

The Frenches were among the early participants with their beef farming products.

They were the owners of Rathbeg Farms, which French says is an Irish name.

Her son and daughter-in-law took over operations of the farm in 2012 but don't take part in the farmers' market anymore because of a lack of time. French said it was Anne Dockendorf of Silver Rapid Farms who asked if she would like to cut the ribbon to officially open this season of the farmers' market.

“I was very nervous,” French said.

“I've never done anything like this and I'm a very private person.”

Several dozen residents were at the ribbon-cutting Saturday morning this Victoria Day long weekend and after the ceremony, they began buying up the seasonal goods.

JoAnn Long, who is the chair of the Powassan Farmers' Market, said it's great getting the farmers' market back to normal.

COVID never shutdown the outdoor event, but organizers had to deal with restrictions.

“Two years ago we could only have food vendors on site and they had to be separated by every second stall,” Long said.

“And by mid-season last year we were able to start adding more vendors.”

Long is also a vendor at the farmers' market with her business, Long's Maple Syrup.

She says also back this year is a tent with live musicians every weekend.

In total, 11 vendors are permanent participants with another eight showing up every couple of weeks.

Most of them are from Powassan and Trout Creek but a couple also come in from Restoule and Sundridge.

Long says the available items for purchase range from numerous food plants and flowers, to goat's milk, hand creams, baked goods, frozen meats and frozen dehydrated foods known as permafrost.

There's a children's play area on the grounds where parents and vendors let their kids play while the parents shop and the business owners sell.

Long says during July and August the local library will also have a summer student reading to the children and engaging them in craft activities. The library will also set up its Story Walk Project on the grounds.

Long says this year, the farmers' market is also creating theme events.

For example, on June 11 it's Knit in the Outdoors where a group will be displaying their knitting skills.

On June 18 during Father's Day weekend, the children will be taking part in craft projects and they will also be encouraged to come to the farmers' market dressed as dad.

The Powassan Farmers' Market takes place every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1:00 pm rain or shine and ends with the Thanksgiving weekend.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget

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