The facility has to be readied for the move and that could take a couple of years.
According to St. John’s Coun. Tom Hann, it will cost $3 million to overhaul the old bus depot into a community centre, serving not just as the farmer’s market, but a multi-purpose meeting area for the city core that includes kitchen facilities. Hann said the city is looking to the provincial and federal governments to chip in.
The city will need to improve parking on the site as well, but Hann said it’s an ideal location as the depot is on a bus route, is close to the university and the neighbourhood needs services.
“This can be more than a farmer’s market, “ Hann said.
For the time being the farmer’s market will remain at the Lion’s Chalet.
Options for the new home include a year-round market and extra opening days or a week-day evening time, said co-op chair Josh Smee.
The market currently is only held on Saturdays from June to late December.
Smee said a feasibility study suggested the market open more days. Many of the vendors’s wares are not seasonal— there are food and craft booths. And Smee said the farmers can adjust by having more vegetables that last through the winter, or provide greenhouse grown product.
With a bigger operation, more staff could be hired in addition to the operation’s seasonal full-time manager and part-time assistant manager.
Smee acknowledged that some potential customers avoid the chalet now because of the cramped space.
“We totally recognize it’s to the point it’s too crowded,” Smee said.
The new location would see the market go from 6,500 square feet to 14,000 square feet.
The farmer’s market started off as a one-off event at the Masonic Hall in downtown St. John’s when a couple of farmers got together in 2006.
Because of the response, the market became a permanent event and moved to the Lion’s Chalet on Mayor Avenue in 2007.
With improved infrastructure at a new site, the market could attract other vendors, such as butchers and fish mongers, Smee said.
Vendor fees which makes the co-operative self-sustaining — it receives no grants from government — would be varied, based on the space and equipment required.
St. John’s Farmers’ Market will eventually move to bus depot
At a meeting Monday night at St. John’s City Hall, the members of the St. John’s Farmers’ Market Cooperative voted unanimously in favour moving to the former Metrobus Depot on Freshwater Road.
The market has been operating out of the Lion’s Chalet on Mayor Avenue.
The members of the cooperative – a mix of vendors and consumers – reviewed the results of a feasibility study commissioned by the City of St. John’s that shows an opportunity at the former depot for the market to expand both its physical space and its role as a business incubator, community hub and promoter of the local food and craft movement.
With approval-in-principle granted by the members of the co-operative, the co-op's board work with the City of St. John’s to create the new facility a reality.
“St. John’s is more than ready for an expanded, permanent market,” says co-op chair Josh Smee said in a news release.
“The crowds on Saturday mornings prove that. The City of St. John’s has been a great partner in making this, for the first time, a real possibility. We appreciate the work of the city staff engaged on this project and the leadership of Councillor (Tom) Hann, who has been a key driver of the idea.”
Until the new place is ready, the market will continue to operate at its current location at the Lion’s Chalet Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The last market day of the season this year is Saturday, Dec. 20.