Hello friends of the market! We’ve been getting lots of questions lately about the market’s future and the possibilities for space at the old Metrobus garage. Here are some answers!
Q: I’ve seen surveys about a “community market” going around – is that the same thing as the Farmer’s Market?
A: Pretty close, but not quite! The “community market” term comes from the city’s Economic Roadmap, which identified a market for local produce, food, crafts, and community interaction as a priority for the city. That’s the role the SJFM Co-op is playing quite successfully – though there may well be room to grow. At the moment, the city has hired consultants to do a study on what the community wants to see happen in the world of local food and goods – and they’re using the term “community market” to help fit it into their bigger roadmap. The SJFM is helping guide that study, and we plan on using the results to guide where we go and how we grow in the next few years.
Q: So what’s the deal with this study?
A: It’s a 2-parter. First, the consultants (from Goss Gilroy) will be gathering community input (from SJFM vendors, SJFM consumers, and others) and examples from other markets in Canada to help build a model for what the community wants to see out of its market. Once there’s a model, they’ll take a good hard long look at the Metrobus Garage on Freshwater and see if the model would fit in that space and recommend how to run it if it were there.
Q: Who is running the study?
A: The study is being funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the City. There’s a steering committee for the project, with representatives from ACOA, the provincial department of Innovation, Business, and Rural Development (IBRD) and us, the St. John’s Farmer’s Market Co-op. The consultants from Goss Gilroy are contracted by the City.
Q: Does this mean the SJFM is moving?
A: In the short term, definitely not. We will be staying on at the Lion’s Club in 2014. Over the longer term, it’s possible – but the choice will be made by a vote of the members of our co-op. Once this study is done (around December), we’ll have a proposal to talk about. If we do decide to pursue a move, there would still be lots of work to do with various partners in locking down the resources to renovate the building.
Q: Are we talking about the whole Metrobus garage? That’s huge!
A: Nope! The City plans to hold onto the office block and a large area of the bus bays for their own use. That said, the area being considered for conversion is a lot bigger than our current footprint at the Lion’s Club.
Q: Does this mean the city would be running the Farmer’s Market?
A: Nope! The SJFM is a cooperative of vendors and consumers, and we always will be. One of the big questions being addressed in the city’s study is how exactly governance and management of the bus garage space could work (the city will definitely own the building). Once the study is done, the potential models will definitely be up for discussion.
Q: What happens to all our survey responses if you don’t move?
A: Lots, actually. This is a strategic planning year for us, and all that data is exactly what we need to nail down our own vision for the next few years. If we don’t end up at the bus depot, our location committee will continue to look for a permanent home for the market as they have been doing for several years now – and they’ll have the data from the study to help inform that search.