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The Stevensville Farmers’ Market: From Farm to Fork

Christine Whelan FEO, June 23, 2022, VOL. 3 ISSUE 22

The Stevensville Farmers’ Market is a producer-based market. Vendors grow or produce what they sell themselves. From a wide range of quality, seasonal fruits and vegetables, to local honey, maple syrup, art, baked goods, artisanal foods, and health and wellness products, the market is a nice blend of seasonal vendors who are at the market every week. In addition, there are occasional vendors who come a few times each season: non-profit groups, community organizations, and the brick-and-mortar businesses downtown.

The market operates Wednesday afternoons from 3:00 to 6:00 in front of Memorial Hall and the Stevensville Library. Early bird shopping is available at 2:30 for ‘grab and go’ customers and seniors. The first planned Wednesday, which was June 1st, was rained out. June 8th became the first day of the market. Wednesday markets will continue throughout the summer until October 5th.

Market Manager, Mary-Lou Ambrose-Little says, with Stevensville, they decided not to open up too early because they tend to have smaller box farms. “We don’t have the big box farms, like DeVries for example, with a full range of produce. One of the new trends is hobby and urban farms.”

Mary-Lou explained, “An urban farm is like the younger generation saying, ‘I want to eat healthier’ and they’re growing things without being certified officially. They’re growing more than they need and they end up out at a farmers’ market selling their extra produce.”

We talked about the reaction to the pandemic when some people decided to begin growing their own food. “Some found that, once they tried it, they liked it.”

Mary-Lou remarked after managing the first Wednesday, “It looks like the market is set to have a really good year. It opened with both sections absolutely full of vendors and 250 people came through.

“We’re expecting to level off at 40 vendors. We are now calling ourselves a full market. Anyone who is interested will have to go on a waiting list until we have space for them.” This is the first time this has ever happened at the Stevensville Farmers’ Market.

I asked Mary-Lou her thoughts on why the market has taken off so quickly and successfully this year. “I think it’s at least partly because people have been wanting to get out. And with the cost of travel and gas, many people are staying closer to home, trying to support the local farm businesses as well, and the local entrepreneurs.”

The vast majority of the market’s vendors are from the Niagara South area, specifically in the Fort Erie area, according to Ambrose-Little.

“I also believe the market, because it’s been going for quite a few years now, has a core group that knows about it and supports it.” The market has a Facebook Group with well over 1,400 members that follow the posts Mary-Lou shares each week.”

Looking into the future

“We’re working with the Town to get a new hydro box put up so that we can go into a bit of a supper market. We’re hoping it will be installed this season. If not this season, next year.” The Fort Erie Conservation Club is taking a coordinating role. “It’s a shared cost between the Town and the market.

“There’s a need. Ridgeway and Crystal Beach have them. It will provide that extra service to the customers.”

She commented about how many people come out from Welland, “It’s an easy drive, just down Netherby Road.”

The parking is just behind the market. “We have lots of parking. You don’t have to park along Stevensville Road.”

Mary-Lou invites everyone to come and check the Stevensville Farmers’ Market out. “It’s kind of like a ‘grab ‘n go’. You can stop in after your day is done, grab what you need, and head home for supper.”

To contact Mary-Lou with any questions or interest in becoming a vendor, you can email stevensvillemarket@gmail.com and check out the Facebook Page by searching Stevensville Farmers’ Market.

Photo provided by the Stevensville Farmers’ Market Facebook Page

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