The Calgary Farmers’ Market has launched its second location in the city in a new 55,000-square-foot building with 67 local and regional vendors as it capitalizes on a growing interest by consumers in buying local goods and fresh ingredients.
The new market is located in the city’s northwest neighbourhood of Greenwich, a growing 59-acre master-planned community by Melcor Developments.
Rod Bradshaw, President of the Calgary Farmers’ Market New Generation Cooperative, said the new building is iconic.
“It’s like a train station from the late 1800s to early 1900s,” he said. “We are a community. We’re individuals. There’s 67 entrepreneurs in there.”
Bradshaw, who is part of the Innisfail Growers, an anchor tenant in the Market, said the group started doing farmers’ markets in 1986. Innisfail Growers is another cooperative which includes five family farms.
“It seems like a lifetime ago. They were kind of more on the edge of things. They weren’t mainstream. Over that period of time, we’ve seen them become more mainstream, people wanting to know who’s growing their food, where it’s coming from, how it’s produced,” said Bradshaw. “So we’ve seen a real growth.
“Then, it was more of an outing than a shopping experience but I think it’s become both now. It’s an outing. It’s a shopping experience. We’re not soup to nuts. You still have to go to the stores to get certain things. But it provides some different products that you won’t find elsewhere. What’s available here is not necessarily available in a normal grocery store.
“That gives us a bit of an advantage. I think people like to have a bit of an outing, be able to pick their produce and know how it’s produced. You can stop and talk to the people.”
John Moss, Senior Vice President, Retail Leasing and Investment with commercial real estate firm CBRE, found the new location for the Cooperative.
Graeme Melton, Vice President of the Community Development, Calgary region for Melcor, called the opening of the new market an important milestone for the real estate company.
“We acquired the land (for the Greenwich development) in 2003 and it went through a series of land use applications . . . We wanted to create a community that was special. We knew it was going to be home to thousands of families by the time we’re done,” said Melton. “And it was getting the right mix of tenants in here. We originally at first couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams that the Farmers’ Market would have found our site and we’re very thankful for John (Moss) that he was able to bring them over.
“We were looking for the right grocer tenant or anchor tenant and when this came by we knew it was the right fit right away. So we jumped on it.”
Melton said Melcor has approval for about 1,200 homes on the site. It’s part of a larger area, across the highway from WinSport. Altogether about 3,000 homes are expected to be in the overall Greenwich community.
“This beautiful building will offer al-fresco style shopping and dining that will support the local economy like no other place in the city,” said Stacey Petropoulos, general manager of the two Calgary Farmers’ Market locations.
“Our mission is to support the progress and growth of small local businesses. We want Calgary to continue growing into a vibrant and diverse city, and when small local businesses thrive, so does our local economy.
“I started working on this project five years ago.”
When Sears vacated its store space years ago because of financial woes, she was interested in the real estate the retailer had left behind at the North Hill Centre shopping mall in Calgary. Because of its central location, she thought it would be a great place for a farmers’ market. But the space was not available. She became connected to John Moss who found the current spot for the market’s second location.
“I want Calgarians to come to both markets to support small local businesses. Since COVID especially, people went online a lot and did shopping and we lost that interpersonal communication and to talk to people. And I think it’s very important that we go back to that, and meet the people who make things, the people that grow things.”
Petropoulos said the Farmers’ Market brings community together and it’s a gathering place for people.
The Calgary Farmers’ Market began in a Currie Barracks airplane hangar in 2004. It opened its current south location at Heritage Drive and Blackfoot Trail in 2011. That 55,000-square-foot market with 78 vendors draws more than one million visitors each year.
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