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Port Rowan Farmers’ Market offers local food, community connections

Updated: Feb 8

The Port Rowan Farmers’ Market is a cheerful space where virtually everyone does know each others’ names.

Karla Falk (left) and Barb Jones welcome customers to the Port Rowan Farmers’ Market.

The Port Rowan Farmers’ Market is a cheerful space where virtually everyone does know each others’ names.

“It’s almost like we’re a little family,” says volunteer co-market manager Karla Falk. “You see everyone every week. That’s really rewarding to have those relationships.”

The market’s origins reach back to 2013 roots, founded says Falk through the efforts of Rick Posavad of Vittoria’s The Good Bread Company.

“He got some others together in the pavilion Friday mornings,” said Falk, who came onboard two years later and remains at the organizational helm in conjunction with with co-managers Barb Jones and Betty Chanyi. “We’ve kept it going since then.”

Emily Martin shows off a beautiful bouquet of glads offered for sale at the Port Rowan Farmers’ Market.

The market is located at the west of Port Rowan’s Harbour, a scenic locale backdropped by sweeping vistas of Long Point’s Inner Bay. It switched hours from Friday mornings to afternoons from 3-6 p.m. June through to the Friday before Thanksgiving. Kent Creek Orchard remains as the lone founding vendor, anchoring a changing and growing cadre offering fare including in-season fruit and vegetables, flowers, meat, rainbow trout, maple syrup, mushrooms, honey, dehydrated fruit, plants, local wine and beer, baked goods, frozen pizza, homemade soaps and crafts and sewed goods.

“In the summer, I don’t really have a need to go anywhere else,” said Falk, whose main purchase outside of the market would be dairy products. “I can get a lot of things there.

“You realize how much great stuff is around here and how lucky we are to live in such a bountiful place.”

Myles Falconer holds a lovely bundle of radishes on offer at the Port Rowan Farmers’ Market.

The market lineup includes things not easily accessible in big-box grocery stores she continued, such as pasture-raised chicken, pork and beef, truly homemade baked goods -

“All from scratch, hand made,” - and a line of natural skincare items also made by hand.

“She grows some of the herbs she uses to infuse into her products.”

Connection with the market’s farmers has only increased Falk’s respect for the difficulties smaller producers face, how hard they work to put food on not only their, but others’ tables.

“You get more of an understanding of where your food is coming from, how it’s grown and the challenges. It makes you appreciate it more, I think.”

Of course, as the name indicates, the farmers’ market is about providing access fresh, local produce and an intimate connection with those who produce it. 

“It’s a little bit selfish,” laughed Falk, confessing to a strong preference for sustainable, locally-produced food. “It’s convenient, all in one spot, a one-stop shop to support local.“It’s also convenient for them, because they are very busy,” she added. “This gives them concentrated time to interact with customers.”

Beyond its food-based purpose, the market has also developed into something of a community hub, a place where people like to connect while browsing.

“A lot of conversations start there,” said Falk. “It’s a nice spot, it’s picturesque, it’s a place for people to get out and run into others. That’s a nice side benefit.

Kent Creek Orchard was a founding member of the Port Rowan Farmers’ Market and is still active.

“It’s that social connection which helps keep it going.”

COVID did present a significant challenge, with the market effectively going online, volunteers meeting to pack individual and group orders for Friday pickup. The effort was considerable, yet considered worth it as a bridge to sustain operations. By the end of 2021 patrons could choose either in-person or online options, the latter dropped after that.

“We found people really preferred going to the market in person,” said Falk. “Building that connection.”

The farmers’ market is closed for the 2023 season, however a companion event, the Holiday Market is scheduled for Friday, December 15th at the Port Rowan Community Centre from 3-6 p.m. As well as fall produce including squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes and cabbage, its typical less-seasonally-dependent array of meats and other items will be on offer.

“People can fill up their pantry and pick up a few Christmas gifts at the same time,” concluded Falk, who has found her experience supporting local food and those who grow it, both productive and positive.

“It’s enjoyable to be out in the community and doing something that makes people happy.”

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