I like Farmers’ Markets. In Saskatoon I used to go to the outdoor market in front of City Hall once the weather got nice enough. There was no Farmers’ Market in the winter and fall. The location was a good one – central to downtown apartment complexes and right by the main library. You could browse the market and then pick up a few books for the weekend. When the market moved to its current, permanent location near River Landing, it was good for me because I could walk from my place on the other side of the river, cross the Victoria Street Bridge and stroll along 19th Street. I like the renovated building and the outdoor space. Still it’s small compared to markets in other cities. The main day for shopping is Saturday, although in peak season’s it’s open a few hours on Wednesdays and sometimes Sundays. It would be nice if it could develop into something like Granville Island in Vancouver or Kensington Market in Toronto, though Saskatoon is probably too small for that to happen in the immediate future. Nevertheless, a good beginning has been made with an art gallery, a restaurant, and a coffee shop that stay open most of the week. Some commercial office space also helps.
The first time I visited the Halifax Farmers’ Market was in October of 2010, and I was impressed with the variety and quality of vendors. Vegetables and fruit in season (the best apples I’ve had are local Nova Scotia ones and we don’t seem to get them out west) are great. On both main and upstairs levels you can find crafts that make unique souvenirs. I ’m back to the city for couple of weeks now, and went to the market yesterday morning. I love the bakery where you can get authentic French and European breads as well as delicious croissants from plain to chocolate and pear. There’s organic meat, lots of fish, local honey, tasty jam, and plenty of spots to get breakfast or lunch. Just like the Saskatoon Market it’s a great place to run into friends. I got the impression that for many the Saturday morning market run is an important ritual for many Haligonians, as is the case also in Saskatoon. Late morning on a though it was packed with shoppers so that you could barely move, so I didn’t spend as much time browsing. Perhaps I’ll try again next Saturday -- earlier.
The Halifax Brewery Market, which is not far away, is North America’s oldest, according to Lonely Planet. It is an interesting old building, but no longer has much in the way of vendors because most of them have moved to the other site. However, this Saturday there were lots of bedding plants, which made for a colourful display. There’s also a place where you can get delicious cinnamon buns and other pastry. I guess it’s also possible to get a tour of the old brewery and sample some local beer.
Both of these Halifax markets are close to the waterfront so it’s easy to cover the short distance between the two by strolling along the board walk where you will likely run into tourists off the cruise ships. The City of Halifax has done a nice job of mixing attractive condo space with commercial stores in this area. There are working boats to look at, and also in the water (which does have a greasy dark harbour look in spots) you can see jelly fish, star fish and seaweed.
When I get back to Saskatoon I’m looking forward to checking out the bedding plants at the market. My home garden and planters are late getting done this year because we had such a cool and late spring. It’s been grey here in Halifax, and today it poured for a while. I believe Saskatoon weather is much better.