The historic Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market is moving outdoors and will shift to a weekend-only market beginning in late March, where it will also be moving its indoor winter location along the harbourfront to Pavillion 22.
“We are moving forward with a weekend farmers’ market that will be here in this space in the Cruise Pavilion during the winter months when there are no cruise ships calling,” said Lane Farguson, a spokesperson with the Halifax Port Authority.
“In the summer months, we’re going to be moving the weekend farmers market outside,” said Farguson, “into a new dedicated space that we’re going to start working on in the very near future.”
From May until October the vendors will be set up outdoors under a permanent overhead canopy in the parking lot out front of the current Seaport Farmers’ Market space with all amenities necessary, said Farguson, which will allow space for all current and future vendors.
The Halifax Port Authority took over management of the Seaport Farmers’ Market in 2012 and has been managing the market since, but this time last year, Farguson says the HPA put out a tender to find a new operator and manager of the market but then COVID-19 changed that plan.
The market shut down during the first lockdown and has since reopened at a reduced capacity with fewer vendors on location but the market will continue to operate under the existing public health protocols.
“We are committed to managing the market through these next round of changes,” said Farguson.
Traffic was down during the week and so they will look to capitalize on a weekend model moving forward.
“What we are hoping to do here is take what works well, which is that weekend farmers’ market (model) and work with those vendors to set it up for success,” said Farguson. “And once we get past this COVID situation (the vendors) will be in a really good position to grow their businesses in a big way.”
The change is part of a new chapter in the longest-running farmers’ market in North America, but it’s a change that’s welcomed by those in the industry.
“The best public markets in the world are really animations of space and the people that animate that — those are the vendors — and you’ve got a great, great group of vendors at the Halifax Seaport Market,” said Justin Catalino, executive director of the Farmers’ Market of Nova Scotia. “They could make a parking lot look like the coolest place to be.”
Catalino says the weekend-only format shouldn’t disrupt the market as farmers and vendors are finding new avenues to get their goods sold.
“We’ve seen a bit of a shift, with a lot of farmers’ market vendors are doing things like selling online,” says Catalino. “In 2020 and prior we’ve seen a lot of adaptation in the way farmers’ market vendors were working.”
There are more than 35 other farmers’ markets spread out across Nova Scotia, the most per capita in the country said, Catalino.
The former Seaport Market space will be developed into a transportation incubation lab designed to support innovation and research. It will be called The PIER at the Seaport and will include permanent leased storefront spaces for retailers and eateries to provide for its new tenants and customers along the harbourfront.